With Odd Blood, it’s tempting to say that Yeasayer “pulled a Veckatimest.” Much in the way Grizzly Bear followed up the considerable promise of early experimental records with last year’s art-pop magnum opus of that title, Yeasayer seemed to use 2007’s psychedelic All Hour Cymbals as a warm-up for this, their more accessible, consistent, hook-laden and buzzworthy record.
The Grizzly Bear comparison ends there, though, as Odd Blood is, at its core, a dance record par excellence. Recorded in a Woodstock house rented from studio drummer Jerry Marotta, the album uses that post-DIY, everything-and-the-sound-of-the-dripping-kitchen-sink mentality, but in the service of infectious melodies and retro dance beats. In fact, it may be more accurate to say the band “pulled an Oracular Spectacular,” as, like that MGMT debut, Odd Blood is a seemingly endless collection of glitzy Prince-inspired electro dance singles.
“Ambling Alp” has, somewhat arbitrarily, emerged as the album’s first single, featuring a faux-reggae UB40-ish chorus and Chris Keating’s pining vocals. But, truth is, almost any track could serve as the centerpiece: “Madder Red” with its cascading oohs; “Rome” in its Beyonce-baiting; “Mondegreen” and its TV on the Radio-esque handclaps and horns. “O.N.E.” uses ’80s-vintage electro Africana (not unlike the Talking Heads’ “I Zimbra”) as the backdrop for a song about how confusing human attraction can be, striking a strange balance between cold, synthetic kitsch and warm emotion.
The band have been frank about their intention to craft a sterile sci-fi record that seems to “take place in an off-world colony sometime after the Singularity,” but what’s remarkable is how Odd Blood never feels heady or alien. Instead, it’s a record with real physical appeal that will, no doubt, serve as a preferred party mix for much of 2010.