When Yeasayer released All Hour Cymbals in early 2007, things were a bit more murky. Animal Collective's influence was creeping into Brooklyn practice spaces, and the cynics were slowly beginning to dismiss anything that teetered on that same line between experimental and accessible. But those voices were few enough that bands still produced lush and weird soundscapes that appealed to snobs and avid Urban Outfitters shoppers. All Hour Cymbals was a nice anecdote for those who felt like Grizzly Bear or TV on the Radio were going in the wrong direction. There were no songs resembling a “hit single”, and none that would come in handy selling Volkswagens during the Super Bowl.
Now, three years later, the band has put forth a sophomore album, Odd Blood, and being the sophomore album, this is the perfect time for the band to either make a real statement or put out a perfect piece of shit.
This isn't a hot turd, but it's no revelation either. Instead, in these post-Merriweather Post Pavillion times, Yeasayer has put out a really good new wave album in what I'm
guessing is an attempt to stand out from the pack of bands (who they sounded nothing like to begin with) who join them in the “weird music you can play for your unhip friends” category.
The band doesn't do anything too outrageous with sound, and to their credit, Yeasayer has found ways to touch up the the landscape created on All Hour Cymbals without becoming a totally different band. The opening track, “The Children”, is a sludgy crawl through end times. I especially like it because it is probably what would happen if Tom Waits took a shining to Battles, and began composing their songs. That leads us to the album's teaser single, “Ambling Alp”. While I can appreciate the subject matter (Italian boxer Primo Carnera), I listened to this song several times and placed mental bets as to how long before it's used in a scene for Mighty Ducks 17.
Which brings us to the rest of Odd Blood, and what might be my own mental hurdle or blatant cynicism: while there is nothing inherently bad about any of these songs, I wonder exactly how long I will care about them past the several requisite go-overs needed to formally review an album. Good example: I listen to “Rome”, I think to myself, “oh, this is nice and bouncy. It sounds like the song that the Weird Science soundtrack forgot.” Then, “when was the last time I really gave a shit about the Weird Science soundtrack?”
Yeasayer is incredibly good at what they do, and I appreciate the place they occupy in the canon of experimental music that sound really good when you are getting coffee, or playing kickball in McCarren Park as the sun sets on your twenties, but I need something with a little more substance to hold my attention for two months; which is exactly how long it will take me to realize I need more space on my iPod, and I make a martyr out of Odd Blood.