When I first caught wind of Yeasayer it was the mind-blowing video for “O.N.E.” that originally caught my eye. I was intrigued at this genre bending music. I was blown away by their abilities to blend rock, electronic, afro-pop and just really quirky instrumentation to form these four-minute pop songs with some great bridges and choruses. Were it not for the lasting impressions Vampire Weekend’s Contra and Crystal Castle’s II left on me in both the afropop and electronic arena’s respectively, Yeasayer’s Odd Blood probably would have mined enough of the middle ground in 2010 to land in my personal top 10.
The world has moved on and so have I – so we jump to 2012 and a brand new set of tunes from Yeasayer.
Album lead off, the intriguingly titled ‘Fingers Never Bleed,’ plays like the theme music to the best Volkswagon commercial you’ve never seen.
‘Longevity,’ exhibited in it’s live form on Fallon the other night (below) proves that this is a band that can take this diverse instrumentation and pull it off in a live setting that is both engaging and eye-catching:
‘Blue Paper,’ seems to take its cue’s from Achtung-meets-Passengers U2, before veering off into Radiohead territory.
Grooving first single ‘Henrietta,’ with it’s driving organs and aquatic bubbling bridges is a brilliant introduction to the album. It’s a perfect crossover tune inviting listeners from Odd Blood and 2007’s All Hour Cymbals to join along for album number three.
There is something sterilized and analog about ”Devil and the Deed,’ that evokes thoughts of old-school Depeche Mode and 8-bit video games. I feel like playing Sega’s ‘Ecco: The Dolphin,’ when rocking out to this one. ‘No Bones,’ recalls some of the finer, jagged moments of Odd Blood and make me want to break dance. You don’t want a 36-year-old white boy dancing…not pretty.
‘Reagan’s Skeleton,’ is as provocative a song as its name suggests. The band does not shy away from the 80’s new-wave musical influences here. ‘That’s Reagan’s skeleton/in the moonlight/don’t fear the red eyes/they’re the satellites overhead/That’s Reagan’s skeleton/marching our way/sentimental violence leading his armies/in the fog eternally.’
‘Demon Road,’ carries a tone like something current Swedish contemporaries The Knife might dream up, before exploding into an infectious chorus of ‘All Hell is gonna break loose…’ Next track, ‘Damaged Goods,’ is as controlled as Yeasayer get – there is also a sterile focused vibe on this track that has it leaning towards my favorite cut of the collection. Again the 80’s vibe cuts across the chorus, but the music in the verses remind me of music featured in last year’s Ryan Gosling faux b-movie Drive.
I kind of wish this was the closing point of the album. Sadly ‘Folk Hero Schtick,’ is, well, actual schtick. It starts with a bass line that flirts with Bauhaus and a gauzy vocal, before rolling in some acoustic guitars that give it a MGMT or Folk Implosion vibe, dancing between those two disparate landscapes. Official closer, ‘Glass of the Microscope,’ is cinematic sounding melancholy and gloom – channeling Phil Collins and Massive Attack.
As a collection of songs – I still feel as if Yeasayer are capable of more. I don’t feel as if they’ve truly hit full stride yet and that restraint feels evident on the back end of the disc. I’d say five or six tracks on the album are collection keepers, while the other half, could be tossed in favor of iPod storage space or put in the old ‘cloud,’ for a rainy day.