Needs a Transfusion
By Christina Lee
As proven on All Hour Cymbals and now on Odd Blood, Yeasayer knows how to set the stage for a great adventure. But while chipmunk falsettos may have replaced human howls on this interplanetary trek, these voices are still telling the same aimless tale. Starting with an intimidating first encounter, only now with distortion-voiced aliens (“The Children”), the band’s venture into a new world peaks entirely too early, with standout single the gurgling “Ambling Alp” replacing the last album’s chanting “2080.” From there, save for weak extraterrestrial stabs at R&B (“Love Me Girl”) and swing (“Mondegreen”), this quick rise to crowning glory descends slowly into dull ruminations on fleeting optimism. “I know that home is where you want me / There’s not much for me there,” Anand Wilder sings in “Madder Red.” But as we find out, there’s not much for us out in space, either.
By Matt Fink
Having delivered its 2007 debut right on the cusp of indie rock’s imminent turn toward world music and day-glo psychedelics, Yeasayer’s All Hour Cymbals was more experiment than proper pop album, a disorienting maze of harmonized yelps and frantic handclaps. More than two years later, the Brooklyn trio’s uneven edges are polished by layers of finely calibrated melodies on a backdrop of perky polyrhythms and analog abstractions. The same manic energy remains, bubbling through the skittering beats and farting synthesizers of “Ambling Alp” and the slippery white-boy funk of “Love Me Girl.” But here the focus never shifts from Chris Keating’s surprisingly soulful lead vocals, which seem pulled from some alternate ’80s, strangely familiar yet startling in their immediacy. With only the cascading harmonies of “Grizelda” offering evidence of the band’s tangled roots, this version of Yeasayer has as much in common with New Order as it does Animal Collective, its many moving parts rebuilt upon a synth-pop engine.