Yeasayer returns with futuristic pop jams on sophomore release, 'Odd Blood'

On its 2007 debut, “All Hour Cymbals,” the Brooklyn trio Yeasayer created an alternate-universe “Smile,” the one Brian Wilson would have made had he grown up amid the sands of the Arabian Peninsula, not Southern California. The album had a wayfaring, nomadic feel, its Middle Eastern melodies and tribal percussion hinting at what indie rock might have sounded like in 5,000 B.C.

The group’s sophomore effort, “Odd Blood” (Secretly Canadian), is a more futuristic, less terrestrial affair. The shift is apparent from the opening track, “The Children,” 3 minutes of garbled, computerized vocals and cling-clang percussion. It’s a dispatch from ground control to major Tom Waits — a strange prelude to the digital dance party that follows.

With the weirdness of “The Children” out of its system, Yeasayer spends the next nine tracks piling on synth and vocal hooks. On the electro-reggae hybrid “Ambling Alp” and dance-pop confection “O.N.E.,” the band trades the epic scope of its early material for more mundane, human concerns. The former reads like a pep talk from a father to his son, while the latter chronicles the aftermath of an unhealthy relationship.

Although not every track is as accessible, “Odd Blood” is straight-up pop music done the Yeasayer way. The group goes from Mesopotamia to the moon, and the journey is as worthwhile as it is unexpected.

— Text by Kenneth Partridge, photo by Guy Aroch

Ambling Alp mp3
O.N.E. mp3

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