Let the naysayers become Yeasayers
Brooklyn’s indie-rock trio Yeasayer has garnered media attention ever since their critically lauded debut, “All Hour Cymbals,” caught attention in 2007. Following their debut, the band almost immediately transcended small indie circles and reached worldwide audiences. Even a clip of them practicing was aired on MTV (during the commercials, of course, when MTV pretends to still care about music).
After a painstaking wait, Yeasayer’s second album, “Odd Blood,” seems to cater more to such expansive audiences, honing the subtle pop influences heard on their previous album. Their tremendously catchy single, “Ambling Alp,” exemplifies this dramatic change of style; this does not sound like the same band that was booming portentous waves of sound on the Black Sabbath-esque “Waiting for the Wintertime.”
The sunny rhythm of “Ambling Alp” suggests a departure from the wintry elements of Yeasayer’s debut, embracing blipping keyboards, electronic fuzz and aural idiosyncrasies, like the splashing of water at the track’s inception. The vocals compliment the track’s sing-song quality, while the cheerfully reassuring lyrics, “Now the world can seem an unfair place at times / But your lows will have their compliment of highs,” allow listeners to sing and dance along without feeling guilty.
“Madder Red” follows with a darker, introspective examination of self-failure, capturing a drearier atmosphere with ghastly chanting and drums à la Peter Gabriel. “I Remember” follows and, almost as in recovery from the dejected narration of the previous song, begins slowly and airily, as twinkling keys and reverberating vocals speak wistfully of past memories, “I remember making out on the airplane / Still afraid of flying, but with you I’d die today.”
The song builds gradually in ballad form, as keyboard notes spiral, the drumming quickens, and various electric glitches add both quirky and ruminative ambiance to a beautifully complex track. The sunny synthesizers return on “O.N.E.” with tin can drums batting away at jaunty sonic effects. The song belongs on playlists following MGMT’s “Kids” or “Time to Pretend,” mixing enough technique and instrumental oddness in synth-rooted pop, creating the perfect balance of catchiness and quality.
“Love Me Girl” takes a trance-inducing techno beat to intoxicate listeners as computerized drums and random sound effects (from kid’s shrills to jungle noises) bring the album’s eclectic glory to fruition. This is the type of song that could have any of its parts deconstructed into a club remix; actually, it could work in most clubs on its own merit, as its insistent beat implores listeners to dance.
Like Vampire Weekend’s recently successful album, “Contra,” “Odd Blood” flaunts its modern rock influences, beginning the album with Thom Yorke-influenced vocals on “The Children,” using a vocoder to distill any humanity from singer Chris Keating’s voice. There is also a distinctive Animal Collective resemblance as well, which is an ideal model for a band that is making off-kilter pop music; successful bands generally don’t get much stranger than Animal Collective do.
Aside from the dystopian atmosphere the opening song elicits, the album is a glossy, energetic amalgamation of a variety of sounds and ideas, which, in concept and execution, is also similar to Vampire Weekend’s latest album. Both albums avoid convention: the nasally keyboard solo on “Rome” could have easily been replaced with a guitar solo, but its zany and unorthodox approach thrives in its oddness, a fitting microcosm for the entire band.
80s new wave and disco elements also emerge on the band’s most infectious songs, which will strain indie-elitists looking for only the most complex and obscure music. Yeasayer’s first album may have appeased that audience, but now their music truly seems limitless. It is hard to deny an album that is this immediate and enduring.
Kevin Stevens can be reached at email@example.com.