Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Quick 'N Dirty Review: Yeasayer | Odd Blood

100 - Classic Album; One Of The Best Of All Time
99-90 - Exceptional Work; Rush Out And Get This
89-80 - Very, Very Good; You Should Still Go Out And Get This
79-70 - Not Bad At All; Might Actually Be Worth Your Time
69-60 - Has Its Moments But On The Whole... Meh
59-50 - Won't Make Your Ears Bleed; Won't Make You Dance, Either
49-0 - Don't Waste Your Time; You're Smarter Than This (Probably) 

Now... onto the review:

Yeasayer | Odd Blood

Statements. They often come when you least expect them. Yeasayer was on our radar somewhat after their 2007 debut, All Hour Cymbals, was released but it wasn’t until their brilliant “Tightrope” was included on last year’s Dark Was The Night benefit album that they demanded our attention. Owning perhaps the standout track on that compilation (amongst such luminaries including Iron & Wine, Spoon, Bon Iver, Arcade Fire, Grizzly Bear, and The National) but was no easy feat but “Tightrope” was just that – THE standout. Logically the news that they were at work on a new full-length was welcomed with open arms and high expectations. The resulting record, Odd Blood, delivers immeasurably. It is infectious in a way that no other album this year has been. Imagine a more accessible Animal Collective with a dash of the day-glo sound of Oracular Spectacular-era MGMT and you’ll have a pretty close approximation of how Odd Blood plays. After the anachronistic and Animal Collective-recalling “The Children” opens the record, Yeasayer unleashes a sequence of tracks that rivals the exemplary opening quartet from Beach House’s extraordinary Teen Dream. “Ambling Alp,” the record’s teaser single, was released in late 2009 with its accompanying very NSFW video (available in censored form here), is the first song in the run, and is one of the band’s strongest tracks to date. In the hands of a lesser act the lyrics like, “And if anyone should cheat you, take advantage of, or beat you/ Raise your hands and wear your wounds with pride” over top of bottoming-out synthesizers could feel too sticky and messagey, but it never does here which is a testament to Yeasayer’s talent. Co-vocalist/guitarist Anand Wilder’s “Madder Red” is next and accomplishes Wilder’s goal of creating a John Lennon “Jealous Guy” vibe as his confession, “Never gave much thought to an honorable living/ Always had sense enough to lie/ It’s getting harder to keep pretending/ I’m worth your time” accompanied by a wordless hook that takes up residence in your head and refuses to leave. The closest thing to a love song that Yeasayer will probably ever attempt, “I Remember,” follows and has already been described facetiously by Keating as “the four and a half minute long mixtape love ballad of 2010.” If any track is going to cross over to a mainstream audience, this is it. Like “Ambling Alp,” the beautiful “I Remember” is another track that could have gotten lost in its own sentiment in less talented hands. Closing out the stretch is the bombastic “O.N.E.,” which sees Wilder leading a track that’s closest in tone to MGMT and holy shit – if I could or was inclined to dance, this track would do it. It’s contagious like some kind of fun virus (if fun viruses actually existed) with its underground 80s feel, topped off by Keating’s coda, “If you please stop feeling, tranquilize/ I know the separation kills the soul/ But I won’t stop falling like raindrops/ Because I like it when you lose control.” All four of these tracks have top-20 of the year potential and represent an astonishing leap forward for Yeasayer. The back end of the album is not without its charm (“Mondegreen” and “Grizelda” in particular), but this is without question a front-loaded record, which isn’t at all a bad thing when the first half is this good. Yeasayer in many ways feels like a band who’s finding their way and beginning to hit their stride and when they hit… damn do they ever HIT.

Standout Tracks: "O.N.E.;" "I Remember;" "Ambling Alp;" "Madder Red"

Dirty Rating: 95/100

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