When 2007′s All Hour Cymbals appeared, Yeasayer helped turn ears in the direction of multicultural influence mashing, which has only flourished since. Their experimental (but essentially rockist) aesthetics, and probably their Brooklyn origins too, put them in several critics’ year-end lists in the same company as Animal Collective and Vampire Weekend.

What was best about that first album was the way it sounded less concerned with concrete melody. Songs materialized out of seemingly disparate percussive and tonal bursts. It felt loose, inventive, and playful. That’s the distinguishing element when compared to their follow-up, Odd Blood. All the song elements–the drums, melodies, instrumentation, synths and sequences–feel overt and locked in. It’s pop music. Not to say that it’s bad. Singer and keyboardist Chris Keating even confirmed that aim, that the band was attempting to “challenge Rihanna in the clubs.” To which, good luck.

At their best (as on opener “The Children” and first single “Ambling Alp”), Yeasayer still creates psychedelically uplifting walls of noise and genre blending that feels nuanced and engaging. Their skills as a vocal group are still top notch. However, at their worst (“Madder Red” might be a good example of this), they suggest the most earnest pan flute players in subway stations. Or at the very least some lucky urban hippies who got to take acid upstate and get paid to record an album. You know, which they are. (Secretly Canadian) –Erik Bryan

  1. [...] road next week for a month-long North American tour in support of February’s well-received Odd Blood. At the time, we wrote of the record, “All the song elements–the drums, melodies, [...]

  2. [...] off the Dark Was the Night AIDS benefit compilation.  While the latter half gave non-Odd Blood time to their tribal freak-folk debut, All Hour Cymbals, billowing out harrowing harmonies and [...]