It’s been about two years since Yeasayer released their impressive debut All Hour Cymbals, which tied psych and folk together and then threw in a sitar as well as some gospel sensibilities along the way. Basically, it was not worth categorising but broad in reach and in its musical arrangements. The band have an ability to transcend your average gig experience too (see their Take Away Show for one example) and are at their most uplifting when it’s late and everyone’s looking to kick the night off. It is no surprise that they have been working on producing for others in the meantime (notably Bat for Lashes, also fellow Brooklynites, Suckers) but now they have turned attention back towards themselves and have returned from a house in the Catskill mountains with Odd Blood claiming to have tried to strip things down.
Owners of the vinyl version will no doubt crank the speed up to 45 rpm on the first track because the opener, -The Children’, hardly sets the pace we would expect. It’s a plodding, dirge-type number with a slowed down vocal track – though it is an intriguing opener. It bleeds straight into the majestic single though and now we’re back on track. ‘Ambling Alp’ is an infectious, uplifting slice of advice, in a father to son way, for any youngster feeling different to the masses. Fat bassy sounds, some squeaky synths and a beat that will lift anyone with a modest amount of beer on board off a chair, it’s exactly what you want to be dancing to at about 3.30am (and comes complete with the trippiest video – see below).
‘¨From this point, the album takes a turn from an original mix of sounds to what becomes a pastiche almost (albeit a very good one) of the softer side of the ’80s. -Madder Red’ is the sort of thing that should have been in a John Hughes movie, nicely crafted and slow, with something unshakably retro about the melody – likewise with the following track. Yeasayer do this so damn well but there is a feeling that nothing new is coming out of this, as comfortable as it feels. -O.N.E.’ is a return to 3.30am glory however. Later on is the less appealing, campy and Mr. Oizo-esque -Rome’ and the head-in-hands -Mondegreen’ (sample lyrics include ‘Everybody’s talkin’ -bout me and my baby, making love till the morning light’).
What is uplifting and fresh, as well as what is nicely retro, on the first half, falls away in the second and it becomes a collection of pieces that may have been good ideas but fall short of that come-all-ye feeling that this band in particular excel at. Different people will like different parts of this album but as a whole, it’s missing some ingredients and what’s frustrating is that these guys have all those ingredients in the pantry. There’s a really, really great album in Yeasayer, but sadly they haven’t made it just yet.