Yeasayer is one of those bands that is always difficult to describe to other people. Very generally, the group is often labeled as “experimental pop,” but one reviewer on Amazon.com goes as far as to call it “an eclectic, genre-bending journey into pop, rock, Middle Eastern and African musics, folk, and dub.” Take that however you’d like. Whatever genre they’re placed into, Yeasayer’s second album, Odd Blood, released on Feb. 9, not only proves the existence of this difficult-to-describe genre of music, but also confirms the band’s talent for combining such strangeness with complete awesomeness.
Yeasayer’s debut album, All Hour Cymbals, was darker, with more harmonies than danceable beats in songs like “Red Cave” and “No Need to Worry,” and apocalyptic lyrics in the hit single “2080.” By comparison, Odd Blood seems more uplifting. The band’s first-released single, “Ambling Alp,” gives the good advice to “stick up for yourself, son” and “never mind what anybody else done,” and many of the songs have to do with love. Overall, the album is an excellent balance of optimistic dance tunes like “Ambling Alp,” “O.N.E.,” and “Rome” (a song reminiscent of ‘80s pop music) and slower tracks like “Madder Red”–one of the best tracks on the album–and “I Remember,” a sweet romantic song. Everything on the album just gets better with time, too; even the stranger songs grow on you until you’re rocking out to all of them.
The album’s very first track, “The Children,” may prove discouraging for new listeners. It’s currently my personal favorite, but at first it was a little too creepy for me to handle. Lead singer Chris Keating electronically lowers his voice to a deep tone that somehow reminds one of the Oompa-Loompas in the newest Willy Wonka movie. However, even this song is incredible in its own right, and helps to balance out the rest of the album. “The Children” definitely reflects the depth of Yeasayer’s potential strangeness.
Odd Blood is a wonderful album that definitely adds to anyone’s alternative music collection. Listening to it is a delightful way to put yourself in a good mood. Everyone to whom I’ve introduced Yeasayer and Odd Blood has fallen in love. The band’s optimistic and catchy view of the future is refreshing after All Hour Cymbals, which I also recommend you run out and buy. The hopeful sounds are welcome in this world of a bleak economy, environmental concerns, and overall uncertainty.
Unfortunately for any new Yeasayer fans, Los Angeles was the first stop on their Odd Blood tour. They gave a wonderful show at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles as part of their First Friday program on Feb. 5. In an appropriately strange twist, the concert took place in one of the display rooms of the museum, and the audience danced and sang along under the watchful eyes of moose, grizzly bear, and goat dioramas. The show opened with the all-female Los Angeles alternative band Warpaint, who put on an excellent performance and introduced the main band with shouts of “Say ‘yay!’ Say ‘yay!’ Yeasayer!” Yeasayer put on an amazing performance; Chris Keating in particular got really into the music and pumped up the atmosphere. The band not only played the best songs from Odd Blood but also performed hits from the first album. (The favorite “Wait for the Summer” was especially popular with the crowd.) The concert was the perfect addition to Odd Blood, leaving me an absolute fan of this promising band—satisfied with what I’ve heard so far but excited to hear what else they will produce in the future.