The Brooklyn-based band (yes, another one!) Yeasayer garnered a lot of positive critical and public attention with their 2007 debut album All Hours Cymbals. Following rigorous touring in support of the album, the band retreated to upstate New York to record their second album, Odd Blood (Secretly Canadian). The new album is the sound made by musicians who have their ears, and their minds, open. The sound is a combination of pop smarts, and a determination to move the ball forward in terms of experimentation. Rarely in recent memory have the two co-existed so peacefully.
The album opens on an abstract note with “The Children,” a song that blends distorted vocals with chopped and channeled textures, but then moves to a four song run that is the equal, of anything heard in pop music in recent memory. “Ambling Alp” (free download available at amblingalp.com), “Madder Red,” “I Remember,” and “O.N.E.” impress as innovation meets accessibility, and everyone comes out a winner. Strong melodies, appealingly plaintive vocals, and upbeat rhythms characterize this group of songs.
Yeasayer adopts a somewhat more experimental approach for the balance of the album, but don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing obscure or convoluted about these songs. If anything, they’re more interesting in many ways than the pop songs. The jittery, intense “Mondegreen” does a good job of characterizing this side of the Yeasayer equation.
As I said earlier, the best part is that all of this works beautifully together. It is of one piece, and it is all the sound of a young band pushing forward into new territory, and having a blast doing it. If there was any concern about a sophomore jinx, Yeasayer have beaten it back convincingly. The year is young, but expect Odd Blood to be on a lot of top ten lists at the end of 2010, including mine.
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