Remember when everyone was worried about the apocalypse? Yeasayer’s debut, All Hour Cymbals, teemed with that post-millennial paranoia, layered with inscrutable lyrics about environmental collapse, creeping sickness, and urban claustrophobia that were mirrored in the band’s steamy, tangled mix of Middle Eastern mysticism, art-school-kids-on-’shrooms psychedelia, and Peter Gabriel-inspired prog-wave. But Odd Blood sees Yeasayer emerging from its survivalist self-exile and looking at things in a whole new light—one less jungley and azure, and more neon pink. The breakthrough single, “2080,” found singer Chris Keating unable to “sleep when I think about the world we’re living in,” but he has an answer in Odd Blood’s “Love Me Girl”: “Stay up and play with me.” Problem (temporarily) solved!
Other than the misdirection of the foreboding opener “The Children” (all lurching industrial clangor and creepy, pitch-shifted vocals borrowed from The Knife), Odd Blood boldly pins hearts to sleeves, swimming unabashedly in splashy, New Romantic synth-pop, singing songs about “me and my baby making love ’til the morning light” (“Mondegreen”), and channeling the falsetto-prone, dewy-eyed souls of ’80s bands like Erasure and post-John Hughes Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark. “Ambling Alp,” with its reggae-derived springiness and encouragements to “stick up for yourself, son,” has a Disney-ready cheeriness, like a “Bare Necessities” for disaffected Brooklynites; the cascading keyboards and sentimental sighs of “I Remember” seem predestined to soundtrack a zillion high-school slow dances; and “O.N.E.” takes its post-breakup depression for a frolic at the beach. But outside of some gratingly simplistic lyrics, it’s all light without being lightweight: Odd Blood is every bit as dense as its predecessor, with every inch of space teeming with exhausting polyrhythmic detail and time-warped synth sounds. Yeasayer is still adept at filtering primal emotions through the complex circuits of the future; it’s just that that future looks a lot brighter than it used to.