Courtney Cox | Wednesday, February 17, 2010
The album cover for Yeasayer’s “Odd Blood” looks as if something is missing. It appears that there is a face there, but it looks distorted, like a person being Skyped with horrible service. It’s a blur with basically no structure. What a clever choice for album art because that’s essentially the way the album feels. There are certainly great tracks, but as a whole it isn’t quite assembled and something seems to be missing.
The album begins with “The Children,” which simply has no structure other than the keyboard part near the middle and end. It gives off the feeling of suspense, almost saying … just wait, the album hasn’t started yet. It seems like a wasted song, but it’s the first one so of course there’s still hope for the rest of the album.
The suspense proves to be well worth it, seeing as the first single off the album, “Ambling Alp,” follows it up. This track is so great in every way. It may not cause the listener to jump up out of their seat and dance, but it’s perfect for just bopping around. The drums are one of the best parts of the song. They drive the melody and have been known to cause many an air drummer to go crazy. The best part of the entire track, however, is the lyrics. They are so inspiring in a very non-pretentious way. “You must stick up for yourself, son. Never mind what anybody else done.” It makes so much sense. “It is important to not let everyone just walk all over you,” seems to be the message that lead singer Chris Keating is trying to convey, and he has done so in a very hip manner.
That great track is then followed up by “Madder Red,” which is almost an ‘80s-inspired power ballad rearranged for the indie rock listeners of the 2010’s. It begins really minimalistically but then builds to a sort of pop melody. It’s definitely good, but not great. It seems to serve as a brief interlude between “Ambling Alp” and the following “I Remember.”
“I Remember” is one of the best songs on the album simply because it’s so straightforward. Amongst all the noise and arguably overly ambitious instrument choices, this track is honest and self-assured. In a lot of ways it’s very sweet. Not Jo Bros sweet, but definitely sweet for Yeasayer. It begins with a descending scale that gives off the impression of tumbling. It is a very happy and upbeat fall, however, and that’s when it becomes clear that it’s falling in love. Cute right? Well someone must have really cast a spell on the lyricist because every word is just dripping with a peaceful bliss. Keating sings, “I remember making out on an airplane, still afraid of flying but with you I’d die today.” Gosh, doesn’t everyone wish they could find a guy that sweet? It gets even better. He also sings, “You’re stuck in my mind all the time.” Swoon. It’s definitely a love song, but the best part about it is that it’s simple and real. Despite all the noise he’s talking about situations that most people can relate to and will identify with.
The last truly good song on the album coincidentally follows directly after “I Remember.” “O.N.E.” is the dancey track that picks up the tempo after its peaceful predecessor. While it is definitely upbeat, the message is a little angrier. The whole point of the song is that this man, whoever he is, is trying to get away from the girl who had him wrapped around her finger. It’s almost pushing her away, but then right in the middle of the song it slows down for mere seconds with the words, “Hold me like a foe, hold me like you used to, control me like you used to.” While he is pushing her away he still has her in the back of his mind and at some points still wishes she were there. Then suddenly he mans up and pushes her away again with, “No … you don’t move me anymore, and I’m glad that you don’t, ‘cause I can’t have you anymore.” It’s a great juxtaposition and it makes the song one of the three standout songs from the album.
Sadly those three are the only three with any real merit, and they all occur within the first five tracks. “Odd Blood” perfectly nails some songs, but others are just jumbled and leave the listener wondering what in the world? While it’s not Yeasayer’s best album, it does have its redeeming qualities and is definitely worth a listen, if only to hear those three standout tracks.