[sic] Magazine

Yeasayer – Odd Blood

So the story goes, the Animal Collective-Odd Blood connection is two-fold.

Firstly, in releasing a very early, much-lauded (whisper it) “album of the year contender”, Yeasayer could be about to “do an Animal Collective” (n.b. a phrasal verb meaning to arise from critical into commercial success).

Secondly, much has been made of the diet-Animal Collective nature of this album. 2009’s Merriweather Post Pavilion was rightly praised for its oddball eccentrics and West-coast harmonies on top of a beating pop heart. Odd Blood has been criticised for being its less verdant, but nevertheless related, cousin.

What is certain is that almost from the onset, Yeasayer’s second album is a streamlined, seamless and quick-paced aural treat. What gives the game away is the preceding single, “Ambling Alp”. If Yeasayer don’t have an album of the year on their hands, they definitely have a track of the year from it. Its exhilarating rhythms, playful squelches, peculiar synth spirals, irrepressible melody and optimism (“You must stick up for yourself son, nevermind what anybody else done”) will dominate dancefloors for some time to come.

With this in mind, and in a commercial sense, the transformation from the debut seems butterfly-esque. What has emerged from the happy hippy cocoon is a poppy hipster dream. All Hour Cymbals was a successful psychedelic ride through experimental pop with world-beat flavourings. Odd Blood is an out-an-out shimmering experiment in hypnogogic alt-pop. The pair aren’t that different, but they aren’t really comparable in terms of immediate appeal.

Like Animal Collective, it must be said that Yeasayer’s pop is in places far from the pop that some will recognise. And the pair of them are vastly different to one another, even though Yeasayer’s “O.N.E” in particular is like mainlining chart-destined saccharine. A double take is required during its opening bars. Wait … was that Whigfield’s “Saturday Night”?

It’s not, but it’s close and luckily it’s saved by quickly lurching into a cowbell-ridden, Italo-pop beast à la Heartbreak. Now with this in mind, questions could be asked of Odd Blood’s shelf-life, but as a collection it nevertheless looks set to define all or part of 2010.

Aside from these shiny shiny bits of well-lathered pop, what else does Odd Blood hide? What has it got to match the lovely widescreen lollop of the debut’s “2080”?

Well, the opener is little more than glitch and percussive scene setting so can effectively be written out of the equation. And there are no more “Ambling Alp”s, but an album full of them would have been impenetrably upbeat. “Love Me Girl” houses shades of Luke Steele’s Empire Of The Sun project with its babbling, sun-kissed looniness and pulsing synths before breaking into a funkier and at times clunking affair.

“Rome” is pure electro-influenced pop and, with “I Remember”, able to hold its own, but little more. “Mondegreen” is a clapping and keyboard-led exercise in non-event and as such Odd Blood ultimately lacks the consistency of All Hour Cymbals. It’s a step forward for sure but whether it is a step better depends on the listener.

Those that like sugar will be likely entranced from start to finish, those that like salt will also be but there is a peculiar aftertaste to Odd Blood, a metallic tang left by all its chrome fixtures. These can be forgiven as Odd Blood is a phenomenal record, but perhaps in being one shade too far from their roots they’ll win the odd battle but lose the seeming blood feud with Merriweather Post Pavilion.