If the 2010 year ended today, Yeasayer’s Odd Blood would be the album of the year, and for the same reasons I chose my last three albums of the year (all three of those, coincidentally, like Odd Blood, also came out early in the year). This is an accomplishment, both standing alone as a fantastic record as well as a huge stride forward for the group itself. It’s colorful and electric, it leaps out of the speakers, and it possesses that rare quality of being more enjoyable to listen to as a whole rather than in sections. Multiple listens aren’t a suggestion but a requirement: first impressions are positive, eighth and ninth impressions are beatific.
This is not to say Odd Blood is without imperfections, it’s not flawless; but even the places where it lacks ultimately compliment the entity, like a beauty mark on a model or subtle scratches on a favorite piece of vinyl.
There are sure to be those who won’t like the new sound; the neo-folk and world influences on Yeasayer’s first album have been replaced with a more standard pop incarnation, balancing between new wave 80’s (Madder Red, O.N.E.) and a more modern-sounding organic electronic sound (Albling Alp, I Remember). In fact, the album wastes no time plunging into the deep end of the genre-shift pool, opening with the robotic vocals of “The Children” with lots of plodding and clanky percussion.
This variation in Yeasayer’s musical choices is not necessarily responsible for the overall quality of the album, though. There’s a consistency here that lacked on their debut. Dig deeper into Odd Blood and the material’s still alluring, like the rhythmic steel drums on “Rome” or the bass-heavy, Flaming Lips-ian synths on “Mondegreen”. And even though the second half can’t maintain the sheer brilliance of the first, it also doesn’t come anywhere close to filler.
Regardless of their inspiration (some outlets have reported drug experimentation, a trip to New Zealand, and a desire to craft a more poppier record as primary musical catalysts) Yeasayer has produced something wonderful. This is a pop record for intellectualists on their day off, a guilty pleasure without the guilt, and music that thrives both in the day as well as the night. The songs are slick, easy to take in on the surface, but worthy of repeating as the layers of sound are diverse and reserved. If you hadn’t recognized Yeasayer as a hot indie-rock commodity already, you will now.