In many ways, Odd Blood is Yeasayer’s wonderfully freakish, plagiarism-as-flattery bow to the nerdy altar of ‘80s synth-rock. The Brooklyn trio artfully pilfers a dozen or so sounds—Wham!‘s purposefully asinine glam-pop antics; Rush’s hammed-up fantasy atmosphere; the Talking Heads’s whimsical, manic melodies; gated drum patterns ripped straight from New Order’s “Perfect Kiss”—and heaps them with untold glee into a murky, distorted, post-punk landscape that reeks of a lumbering dread. Simultaneously unpredictable, goofy, and terrifying, Odd Blood is a bizarre amalgam of glossy retrospection and dirty, demented modernism.
As for all the borrowed concepts, Yeasayer often frequently turns them on their face to expose an awry beauty. When frontman Chris Keating sings a typical posturing line such as “Everybody’s talking ‘bout me and my baby, making love ‘til the morning light” in “Mondegreen,” the tone isn’t swarthy or irreverent, but ominous and fanatical, like the dying blather of a paranoia-choked junkie. Likewise, the vocoderized whispers of “The Children” aren’t soulful or sexual, but as inhumanly tragic as Thom Yorke’s pied-piper narrative in “Kid A.” Even “I Remember,” a flittering daydream of Atari-esque bleeps and clicks, becomes a concoction of angst and whimsy, sparkling and chiming eerily like a Reagan-era video arcade behind Keating’s warble. The feverish approach lends Odd Blood a slithering lo-fi ecstasy, elevating it beyond the similarly buzzing, synth-infused efforts of Yeasayer’s peers.