naysayer… this album blows.
the Brooklyn ethno-trance-dance celebrants,
caught a wave set in motion by Animal Collective in 2007, releasing All Hour Cymbals to unequivocal praise. MTV
called them “One of Seven Bands at SXSW That Matter.” Pitchfork gave them a 7.8. Entourage ran “Sunrise” over its closing credits. Beck
offered an opening slot. And all this for an album released on tiny We Are Free
Odd Blood, the second album, looks to be the
band’s bid for a commercial killing, released on a bigger label (Secretly
Canadian) with simpler, more accessible songs and far, far cleaner production.
But unfortunately, clarity is not working in Yeasayer’s favor. Getting a good
listen to Odd Blood is the music
world’s version of waking up in bed with someone who is not as good looking as
you thought, not good looking at all in fact, and possibly not even of the
opposite sex. What were you thinking?
starts out okay, with the clank and distortion of “The Children,” a mic-altered
thread of narrative running through African polyrhythms and vast synthetic
spaces. It’s the fuzziest, foggiest, hardest-to-hear of all these tracks and
also one of the most bearable. When you
clean this stuff up, there’s not much to look at. Early single “Amblin’ Alp”
has been scrubbed and disinfected to within an inch of its life, and maybe
beyond. “You must stick up for yourself, son, never mind what anybody else
done,” sings Chris Keating, celebrating individuality in a track that is,
ironically, almost entirely devoid of personality or soul.
worse with the two “ONE” cuts that straddle the middle of the album. They’re
the kind of faux funky, disco sterilities that you might mostly associate with
bands that dress in uniforms and have cute hair and get covered in Tigerbeat. It’s a break-up song
performed in the kind of smarmy, self-absorbed tenor that goes down well with
tweener girls, embellished at intervals with sugary R&B pop falsettos. And
damn, you get through it once and there it is again, in a remixed version that
is just as false and inhuman as the first.
You have to
wonder whether Yeasayer thought that this kind of vacuum-sterile production and
asexual white boy funk actually sounded good or just might increase their
changes for mass success. (Either way, how depressing!) If you ever wondered what it would sound like
if Phil Collins brought in the Back Street Boys for a song on the Tarzan soundtrack, here’s your answer. Not
good, my friends, not good.
“ONE” “O.N.E.” (but not in a good way) JENNIFER KELLY