Dissecting Yeasayer’s Multiple Identities
Those who are familiar with Yeasayer’s work know that the differences from their debut album All Hour Cymbals and their sophomore album Odd Blood are vast to say the least. It’s sort of like comparing the films of Mel Brooks to the films of Paul Thomas Anderson. Both are brilliant in and of themselves, but for blindingly different reasons. The differences really makes me wonder which direction the band is headed next. Let’s take a look at each of the albums.
Yeasayer’s first album is earthy and raw. The vocals are cerebral and distant at times and in your face in others. It’s chock full of bongos and central african style chanting. It’s bonfire worthy. It’s world music for lack of a better term. I can only assume that Peter Gabriel thinks it’s the cat’s pajamas. All Hour Cymbals takes you to an almost basic, spiritual place with songs like “Sunrise” and “Forgiveness”. Conversely the lyrics can be quite disturbing. On “Wait for the Summer”, there’s talk of hiding bodies. On “2080” there’s talk of lost faith in humanity. It’s a deep well of an album that is actually kinda fun to fall into and get stuck in. Just call me Timmy O’Toole.
Album number two from our boys in Yeasayer is quite unlike its predecessor. The meandering guitars and vocal backgrounds are replaced with synthesizers. The african like percussion is replaced with more synthesizers. The 80’s sound is alive and well here. It’s a dance album through and through. Though it’s still amazing in it’s own right, it’s a drastic change. The one place where things stayed in place are the lyrics. “The Children” is about vengeful, murderous children warning the listener of their strange ways. “Grizelda” is just as creepy “There’s a whisper inside of her brain telling me who to kill/telling me who will live.” It’s actually kind of fun to tap your feet to lyrics as sinister as these. In the end, Odd Blood is as exciting and pulse-pounding as All Hour Cymbals is beautiful and engaging.
Where from here?
One can only guess as to where Yeasayer heads next. Will they revert to earthier material or continue on their path of dance tunes. Maybe they’ll mix the two sounds together a bit. Or perhaps they’ll take another, third direction. No one can tell at this point, I’m afraid the third album is still on the distant horizon. Whatever they’ll pump out will no doubt be stellar and I for one can’t wait to have a listen.