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Reviews

Yeasayer
Odd Blood Jack Mills , February 16th, 2010 08:08

Despite what Channel 4's endless obsession with self-deprecating countdown lists would have you believe, chart music in the 1980s had so much to bring to the table. With dread, tension and despair, listeners had Depeche Mode, Public Image Ltd and The Cure as companions. Sexual ambiguity, camp bravado and extroversion were coloured with the compression pad stompathons of Madonna, Aha and Wham, and the itch of sing-along, dough-eyed introspection was satisfied, rather triumphantly, by the likes of Talk Talk (a phenomenon, by anyone's standards), Tears for Fears and Cocteau Twins.

Odd Blood, Yeasayer's second studio stint, is a well-informed, updated ode to pastures old - listen to the frenetic pastich_e of Scritti Politti's 'Small Talk', to get a closer idea. Bass pops (though not in a Ed Banger-y way), androgynous vocals and tightly realised choral hooks are rife throughout, and though efforts by the exquisitely irrelevant Empire of The Sun may be occasionally relived, somehow the album works as a singularity; quite unique and superiorly packaged.

'O.N.E.' is an obvious highlight here. Delay-heavy bass riffery splashes the intro, like McCartney's 'Wonderful Christmas Time' reversed, blast through a filter and remixed in the style of Soul Sonic Force's 'Renegades of Funk'. With such a collage of themes, it's a wonder how the player keeps its shape and avoids morphing into an embarrassing parody of itself, ELO style. Occasionally, it does lose focus: 'Love Me Girl' is often unnervingly skew-whiff, brought round again by Rome's wildly off-piste drumming accents and pitch-shifted vocals not a far cry from some of Tyondai Braxton's experiments with fellow Brooklynites Battles.

"I can't sleep when I think about the times we're living in," Chris Keating spat three years ago on breakout single, '2080'. Somehow the absurdity that was articulated on Yeasayer's debut All Hour Cymbals has been sucked in and spat out on Odd Blood; all-you-can-eat buffet of middle eastern rhythm tapestries and rich 80s pop compositions. There's simply too much to react to when listening for the first or even fifth time: regardless of this, you are convinced the five piece have a thorough understanding of their direction. For all the drowned out, reverb-friendly rock howling its way out of the west/east coast in recent times, it's nice to see a band execute their ideas with such clean precision, even if it represents a stark contrast to the so-called surfer punk staple. "If you could laugh at yourself, what difference would it make?" co-vocalist Adand Wilder muses this time around. A huge difference, it would seem...

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