Odd Blood



by Adam Downer EMERITUS
January 10th, 2010 | 73 replies

Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: On Odd Blood, Yeasayer are quite content to make cool yet easy pop music, ultimately keeping themselves as the band to check out if you like (better indie bands).

While there’s nothing particularly wrong with Brooklyn based Yeasayer, they have the unfortunate problem of being stuck on the periphery of “hip.” While their 2007 debut All Hour Cymbals was deservedly critically acclaimed, the reviews often contextualized Yeasayer with other bands in order to give potential listeners some point of reference while diagnosing the band as good albeit somewhat inconsequential electro pop. This kind of forced association is the curse of being such a band lingering on the edge of cool; a destiny of reviews featuring some variant on “(X band) is part of (kooky revivalist movement) therefore sounds like (superior bands in kooky movement mixed together).” In Yeasayer’s case, the problem is which superior bands in said kooky revivalist movement are they aping and who in said movement is doing what they do, but better.

With All Hour Cymbals, publications such as Pitchfork and cokemachineglow wasted no time in citing an Eno-era Talking Heads influence and lumping the act in with A-list indie rockers such as Animal Collective and Arcade Fire. Unfortunately, the problem with all this citing and lumping is that Yeasayer are, quite simply, not of the same caliber of the bands they cite and are lumped with. What Yeasayer did on All Hour Cymbals was pull together an impressive amalgam of influences to craft impressive songs which, although not particularly groundbreaking or spectacular themselves, suggested a great future potential. Yeasayer’s sophomore release, Odd Blood, also suggests potential, but never quite hits it or really strives to hit it. Instead, it appears the band is quite content to make cool yet easy pop music: catchy, mostly harmless, never really unpleasant, but ultimately fated to keep Yeasayer as the band to check out if you like (better indie bands).

And so, since Odd Blood lacks anything particularly special to separate Yeasayer from a pack of buzz bands, the name dropping game can again be played in earnest. Odd Blood has a remarkable ability to compliment well-versed hipsters while being just original enough to highlight Yeasayer’s not-inconsiderable skill. One can hear shades of Klaxons on “Madder Red,” David Byrne on “I Remember,” and a lovely marriage of Animal Collective and fun. on the album’s lead single and strongest track “Ambling Alp,” with Yeasayer borrowing, in addition to each of the bands’ sonic palette, their influences' ability to make the slight sound inviting and lovely. Odd Blood isn’t as trippy or challenging as its cover, which could well be a depiction of the result of opening the Ark of the Covenant in the year 2200, would suggest. Instead, Yeasayer place themselves squarely in 80s pop bliss, with hooky synthesizers, jumpy bass and echoing snares grounding the celebration vocalist Chris Keating is zealously hosting. Keating’s vocals waver between impassioned and campy, but they generally fit Odd Blood’s style. Nothing is meant to be subtle on Odd Blood; Yeasayer instead up the glam and the geeky sense of cool.

But where does this leave Odd Blood? All the sheen and glitter adorning almost every moment of the album leaves Odd Blood sounding eerily shallow. It doesn’t have much else to offer than its face value, providing no depth to its stream of well crafted pop tunes. Instead, Odd Blood delivers a series of earworms that are undeniably catchy but leave a legitimate question in their wake: why should we care? Yeasayer ultimately fails to answer this question, and Odd Blood sort of just runs its course unimpressively. The record’s theme appears to be “dance, feel good,” but it lacks the pathos necessarily to make it believable. There are a few stray lines that stick, particularly on “Ambling Alp,” a track whose melody makes “Stick up for yourself son! Never mind what anybody else wants” simply irresistible, but mostly the hooks come from jumbled clichés and oddly flat choruses. The latter half of the album finds a series cool-as-fuck struts buttressed by a general shallowness that renders the songs generally irritating. For example, a song like “Rome” can have the best hook on the album yet winds up feeling trite and annoying with nothing but “whoa, it’s gonna be mine/ it’s just a matter of- it’s just a matter of time” serving as the chorus. It’s this kind of directionless charm that makes Odd Blood feel, well, odd. The songs are good; they just don’t have the emotional core necessary to supplement their barrage of hooks.

With Odd Blood, it appears that Yeasayer want to bring the party and play the role of the philandering bachelor well. But this bachelor is also destined to a life of playing second fiddle to the better man; sure, he’s fun, and you might even take him home, but let’s not kid ourselves. You don’t commit to spending the rest of your life with fucking Yeasayer.

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user ratings (298)
other reviews of this album
DivinityOfPan (3)
When electric rhythms and delicate vocals dominate, Odd Blood is an excellent effort. However, bloat...

Comments:Add a Comment 
January 10th 2010


the album cover is deceptively trippy and challenging

I thought this could've been a 3.5 though.

Electric City
January 10th 2010


Album Rating: 3.0

like a 3.2/3.3 review

anyway, this review is lol early but i havent reviewed since Elder and since this is one of three albums i have dibbed whose release coincides with the beginning of spring semester, i figured i'd get one out early

January 10th 2010


I don't know, not to sure about getting this. Honestly have never been big on the band.

January 10th 2010


does this sound like the music they played during the renaissance

January 11th 2010


never listened to them but they seem rather wispy

January 11th 2010


Album Rating: 3.0

damnit, i was gonna review this : ( good job though, as usual!

extremely top heavy album, with ambling alp, madder red, and ONE sporting some really cool moments.

January 11th 2010


i never really understood all the hype about this band, but i may listen to this.

Digging: The Gaslamp Killer - Breakthrough

January 11th 2010


haven't heard this yet but might not idk downer

January 11th 2010


Album Rating: 3.0

Lol, love that opening paragraph because it's so true. I do wonder if they'll be a backlash against this though for not living up the image of 'Yeasayer'.

Also agreed with Kirk on this being real top heavy - Ambling Alp in particular is a kickass song, even though not every idea here works. I think I like the fact that I can throw this on in the background and its just an easy listen rather than actually listening to it too closely.

January 11th 2010


the bassists pony hair and wife-beater definitely were not cool

January 11th 2010



Staff Reviewer
January 11th 2010


Album Rating: 3.5

Me thinks the release date needs fixing.

January 11th 2010


Album Rating: 5.0

This review displeases me greatly. Why does it even matter if they are "hip" or people like to "name drop" yeasayer for status? The fact of the matter is that this album has risen expectations. I dare say it is possible that this will be one of the best albums of 2010. It's a great album. Don't sell it so short by getting stuck up in labels. Labels do not matter in the real world. Of course, this is only my opinion. As this review is yours... Just had to disagree respectfully.

If anyone is thinking of not listening or buying this album due to this review, please think twice and give it a listen.

January 11th 2010


this album is so deliciously 80s

Electric City
January 12th 2010


Album Rating: 3.0

to indefinicy, thats a legitimate gripe, but i found approaching the album from that angle was the best way I could argue my points with the album. I appreciate the problem with name dropping, but I feel like this album is an album that is average whether you look at how the band is contextualized or how the album sits by itself. I chose to approach it from the former angle because it was the easiest way to delve into my gripes

January 12th 2010


Album Rating: 3.5

I think this is heaps better than All Hour Cymbals

Electric City
January 12th 2010


Album Rating: 3.0

I think I like the fact that I can throw this on in the background and its just an easy listen rather than actually listening to it too closely.

yeah i like this too. It's good for the background, nothing too great, but not bad at all either.

January 13th 2010


Album Rating: 4.0

Album is awesome, but their previous release was better. One of the best Neo-Psychedelia bands around nonetheless. The fretless bass adds a nice touch to their sound.

January 14th 2010


good review yeasayer is such a weird band for me. i listen to the first three traks on all hour cymbals and I'm like, 'this is some of the most interesting, coolest music out there.' But idk the rest of the album bored me. The single from this was alright but I feel like this will be another hit or miss joint.

January 14th 2010


so...sweet, basically some electro-pop I might like as background music?

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