Thousands of brilliant ideas across an album that varies from moment to moment.
Alex Tudor 2010-01-27
In 2007, Yeasayer were guaranteed attention with the double-whammy of African-influenced rhythms and a Williamsburg, Brooklyn address. Still, 2080 was one of the year’s best singles – Gang Gang Dance with pop sensibilities, or the Beta Band with sincerity. At their heaviest (Wintertime), Yeasayer were a seductive, slinkier Led Zeppelin, toning down the machismo, but none of the musicianship.
2009 saw members of the band guest on the second album by Bat for Lashes, a fellow traveller in the world of shamanic whimsy, and ended with a mind-melting video to Ambling Amp (a strong return). Here’s the good news: the single isn’t even the third or fourth best track, and it’s Madder Red and O.N.E. that should be filling dancefloors at the end of the decade, let alone 2010. The new sound features a dense, Dave Fridmann-like production: pumping, parping, squelching sounds familiar to those from The Flaming Lips, or MGMT, but rarely coupled to such strong hooks, or vocal performances, by either.
O.N.E. has a thousand brilliant ideas, reminding you of Cut Copy, Vampire Weekend and The Rapture from moment to moment. There’s a yawing synth that seems borrowed from Radiohead’s Idioteque, to make you pause on the dancefloor, and then a falsetto coda like prime OutKast. Love Me Girl opens like several classic Pet Shop Boys singles at once (the organ from It’s a Sin, the vocal loop from Heart, the house-piano and synth-trumpet fanfares from… oh, you get the idea). Penultimate track Mondegreen might be ghastly on paper, given its chorus: “Everyone’s talking ’bout me an’ my baby / Making love to the morning light / Making love to the morning, to the morning light”. Couple that with handclaps and a blaring sax-riff, though, and somehow it works, like Bowie’s white-soul pastiches.
One website has proclaimed Odd Blood its Most Anticipated Album of 2010, but cautioned that it’s front-weighted with its strongest songs. But rest assured: it’s not until track eight that you get a break, during the acoustic Strange Reunions. And while the closing track is similarly brief, it also manages to suggest our intrepid explorers are heading into something like the Church of the Red Cave (as on the debut) with its dwindling chorus, in search of further inspiration. What comes next, who can say?