Don’t judge a book by its cover… or an album by its first track. Odd Blood gets off to an odd start with “The Children” -- a robotic, plodding song that prizes mood over melody -- before settling into a more balanced groove, mixing the multicultural sounds of Yeasayer's debut with a new emphasis on electronica, global trip-hop, and digital production. Like All Hour Cymbals, this is a thinking man’s album, one that requires its listeners to put on their thinking caps as well as their dancing shoes. It’s more urban than its predecessor, though, with most songs ditching the tribal harmonies and lo-fi analog ambience of the band’s earlier work in favor of an electric, textured sound. “Love Me Girl,” with its mix of Balearic beat keyboards and sampled female vocals, could have come from an Ibiza nightclub, while “Madder Red” strikes an unlikely balance between synth pop, Middle Eastern folk, and ‘80s dance music. Anand Wilder often abandons his guitar entirely, focusing instead on the keyboards that serve as Odd Blood’s bedrock, and he sings the latter song in a voice that’s clear, pleasant, and devoid of the yelping that characterized some of All Hour Cymbals’ tracks. Chris Keating has similarly improved, so much so that he delivers a rather stunning ballad -- the Air-influenced “I Remember” -- with warmth and understated confidence. Odd Blood’s emphasis on genre-mashing can overwhelm the weaker tunes, whose melodies are sometimes less interesting than the arrangements themselves, but the album has enough highlights to outweigh any filler on side B. All in all, this is a rare sophomore album that widens the band's sound without narrowing its appeal.
Odd Blood Review
by Andrew Leahey