YEASAYER – Odd Blood (Mute)

Yeasayer burst onto the scene in 2007 with their psychedelic/progressive world music crossover album ‘All Hour Cymbals’, and great things were expected from them when it got almost universally positive reviews in the press. Then things went a bit quiet, and now three years later they have produced the follow-up. You can hear straight away what they have been doing in the meantime, and that is drastically rethinking their sound, and so what we have here could be classed as their ‘pop’ album, although don’t be fooled into thinking that this will mean adonyne, chart-friendly pap, as Yeasayer are just a bit too intelligent for that. ‘The Children’ opens proceedings with an eerily slowed down vocal and a minimal backing to usher us into the album on the wrong foot. ‘Ambling Alp’ is the single which introduced their new sound to the general public when it was released a few months ago, and its juddering drums and falsetto vocals are all wrapped around an infectiously catchy chorus. ‘Madder Red’ and ‘I Remember’ are both classy electro-pop ballads, and they work because the band are not just ripping off the style, but using it as a basis for their own interpretations. ‘One’ is a reggae-ish revisit to their debut album, and ‘Love Me Girl’ has a great intro which leads into a rave-y New Order style rocker. ‘Rome’ opens with some burbling synth before exploding into a high energy romp driven along by a great rhythm and interspersed with the oddest effects so far heard on the album. ‘Savage Reunions’ sounds all over the place on first hearing, with odd time signatures and fast passages suddenly giving way to slow ones with no warning, but after a few listens it all kind of makes sense. ‘Mondegreen’ is all squelching synth lines and hiccupping vocals from Chris Keating, elegantly held together with some understated horns, and yet despite sounding unlike anything else on the album it still fits in perfectly. ‘Grizelda’ winds things down with an atmospheric ballad which, although still firmly rooted in 80’s electro-pop, does manage to sound thoroughly modern and, like nearly all the songs on this album, is instantly likeable. That is certainly the thing that struck me most about this record. While ‘All Hour Cymbals’ was undoubtedly a great album, it did take me quite a while to really get into it, but with this one the songs are much more accessible, and so you like them on first hearing. Sometimes this can be a disadvantage, as familiarity can breed contempt. Not here, though, as each song is imbued with little intricacies which are unveiled every time you play them, resulting in an album which positively encourages repeat playings.