Yeasayer frontman Chris Keating's tongue-in-cheek claim that the band's sophomore release, Odd Blood, was designed to "sonically challenge Rihanna in the clubs" might be overly ambitious, but it's a good description of the band's departure from its earlier work. The Brooklyn-based trio's critically acclaimed 2008 debut, All Hour Cymbals, melded a pessimistic view of the future ("I can't sleep when I think about the times we're living in") with an almost spiritual sound, complete with chanted choruses and Far Eastern vibes. It was a strange merging of old and new, but it served the band well. Yeasayer clearly set out to make a "poppier" album with Odd Blood, and they mostly succeeded. The first single, "Ambling Alp," combines a Depeche Mode beat with words of inspiration ("Stick up for yourself, son / Never mind what anybody else done"). The album's most dance-friendly song, "O.N.E.," looks back with nostalgia on a failed relationship, and "I Remember" seems destined for high school proms everywhere (in a good way). Add the otherwise mild-mannered Keating's bizarre stage presence — stopping to fiddle with a sound board, then seizing up as though possessed by the music — and it makes for an interesting show.
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