Yeasayer – Oddblood

W

hen this album came out, I listened to it a ton. Or should I say, I listened to the first half of it a ton. In 2010, it was pre-Spotify, so I only listened to the music I could fit on my iPhone 4 and Odd Blood made the cut and was on regular rotation every time I got in my car. It’s been years since I’ve heard any of the songs on this album, and probably since that first few listens that I have made it through the entire album.

Upon choosing to do a Retro Review of this album, I was curious if the album would still hook me. Would I be nostalgic for that period of time when I was only in my mid 20s and still trying to figure out this whole “grown up” thing (still working on it). Would it sound dated and too much of the time to feel relevant today? Well… Here goes nothing.

Headphones in and focused only on listening, I hit play for the first track, “The Children.” I gotta admit, I used to skip this song nearly every time I started the album. Twelve years later, I remember why. It feels more like it’s going for setting a mood than trying to say anything in particular. It would sound at home under the opening credits of an edgy HBO series.

For a song that feels like there’s so much going on, it’s remarkable how much space there is at certain parts.

The album ramps up quickly in what I will soon discover is still a very front-loaded album. “Ambling Alp” is probably the song I connected with the most at the time. All of the polyrhythms are super interesting and draw you in to listen more closely. The bass line is super simple, but catchy, especially with what sounds like fuzz and envelope filter (or possibly a synth) during the chorus that leads to an unexpectedly sparse bridge punctuated by staccato horn punches. For a song that feels like there’s so much going on, it’s remarkable how much space there is at certain parts. 

Yeasayer in Vancouver at the Commodore Ballroom. Photo: David KK, Flickr

Things then chill out a bit for the next few songs. The elements of the sometimes jerky rhythms are still there, but much more subdued. It seems like the vocals take a more central role on “Madder Red” and “I Remember.” Solid songs, but then ramps up for one more killer song in “O.N.E.” before digressing into a mostly forgettable second half.

How does it hold up?

So, with all that said, what are my thoughts on the album? I think I remembered liking it more than I actually did. It’s a solid album for sure, but I seemed to have forgotten all of the low points. The high points of “Ambling Alp” and  “O.N.E.” are high enough to make up for the lower points of songs like “Mondegreen” and “Grizelda” and still make the album an overall enjoyable album.  

Where are they now?

After 15 years and 5 albums, Yeasayer called it quits in December of 2019. After Odd Blood, they released studio albums and two live albums. I couldn’t find any info on what Chris Keating or Ira Wolf Tuton have been up to musically, but in March of 2022, Anand Wilder released his first solo album I Don’t Know My Words to favorable reviews.

Should you listen?

Definitely. Their subsequent albums are also worth a listen, but that’s a who ‘nother article, haha!

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