When I posted Tightrope as my #15 song of 2009, I wrote “According to a lot of people, this band will define music in 2010. I doubt that very much. I really don’t like this band.” I am prepared to eat my words; but to be fair, Yeasayer do not sound like that band I wrote about last year. Something has happened to this Brooklyn trio in the 2 1/2 years that has passed since they released All Hour Cymbals. The only aspect that is still recognizable is Chris Keating‘s voice.
All Hour Cymbals took you to a beach, or a desert, with a bunch of hippies sitting around a drum circle, stoned, maybe a little paranoid and put dirt in your mouth. That type of music, feeling and scene appeals to many people, I know, but it does not appeal to me. Odd Blood takes you off that beach, out of that desert and brings you on a expedition into the world(s) of a disturbed individual. You start out in a swampy, murky place where The Children are and where you’ll meet that character on the album cover…but from there the destinations and depths are limitless.
Ambling Alp, the first single to flood the internet, warned us all of the new direction Yeasayer was going. They had the whole indie world signing along with the self-help chorus “You must stick up for yourself, son“. A perfect balance between electronic experimentation, catchy lyrics and hooks, and some good ol’ fashion indie pop. This is the song that started the buzz.
The protaganist in the Odd Blood story doesn’t listen to his own confidence-building tips in Madder Red when he explains “It’s getting hard to keep pretending I’m worth your time”. Seems sonny is not sticking up for himself afterall. He tells his story of dishonerable living and lies over ohhhhs and ahhhhs straight of out a Weezer song.
Seems she has come to her senses and left our Odd man behind in I Remember. He misses her. Misses her smell, fresh cut grass, being stupid together and of course, making out on the airplane. This sad story plays out over a simple bass beat, keyboards and swooping electronic sounds that would not sound out of place on Merriweather Post Pavillion. But the standout instrument on this standout track is Keating’s voice as he sings “You’re stuck in my mind all the time” over and over again.
O.N.E. is a skitzophrenic disco-dance song that’s not going to end until he forgets her or gets her back. I’m pretty sure this scene is being played out on the moon in 1989. The MTV Moon Man is there planting his flag and pretty soon we’re going to go into an ah-ha cartoon video. “Hold me like before”, “You don’t move me anymore”, “Control me like you used to”, “Because I can’t take it anymore” No matter what planet or decade you’re from…we all know that feeling!
Keating summons his inner-Prince for Love Me Girl. A song that sounds like it could’ve been produced by Timbaland with beats provided by Dre. Seems we’ve come back to Earth and are hangin’ at the club. One of the weaker tracks on the album…but it’s a transitional piece…the last woo-rah before our star loses his mind.
He’s killed her. He’s dumped the body and is now burning his world down in Rome. The impending doom is hiding behind the back-beat and funky bass lines…but it’s there. The world is crumbling but “Rome is gonna be mine…it’s just a matter of time”.
Strange Reunions could be an Animal Collective song. It’s buried in swirls of noise and sounds like it’s being performed underwater. My guess is we are now in Odd‘s own head. He’s talking to himself because there is no one else left. He’s tired of himself, “Dealing with you is a nuisance”, but he’s stuck.
Mondegreen. He’s now hearing things wrong. They don’t mean what he thinks they mean. Reality is blurred. He thinks he’s back with his baby. But it’s just a cruel illusion. But at least it has him dancing and clapping again!
Grizelda is the name from a moral tale intended to show medieval women the virtue of being submissive to their husbands. In the end of the story here, our boy has decided to continue his quest of punishing those woman who he believes have or will hurt him. He’s a lost cause and we pray for those women who get in his way.
Now, I could be completely wrong about this whole story. I made all of that up. Who knows if this is what Yeasayer had in mind when they wrote this album. But isn’t that what great art does? Allow you to create your own picture with the pieces provided?
My prediction is this will top a lot of 2010 lists for best album.