If there’s one problem plaguing the creative output of NYC trio Yeah Yeah Yeahs (and rest assured, there is likely more than one problem), it’s that they don’t have much to prove anymore. After ascending to notoriety with their gritty, minimalist debut Fever to Tell, they managed to conjure up a more anthemic blend of arena rock, turning themselves into a household name with Show Your Bones. Subsequently, they tore into alternative charts and NME accolades with the biting pop of It’s Blitz! before taking their longest break between records to date. Four years later, they return with their latest effort Mosquito.
For the first time, they seem to have released an album that doesn’t so much explore new terrain for the group as revisit an even blend of their old sounds. Not every trick they try works out for the better but, more often than not, Karen O and friends’ shenanigans manage to allure the listener via bombast, spunk and a touch of self-conscious camp. The lead single “Sacrilege,” for instance, has all of these. Karen’s vocals are tested but ultimately showcased, quickly changing from a delicate whimper to a robust yelp to a strained falsetto. The song’s garage funk morphs into bonafide plastic soul about midway through with a full gospel choir stealing the show.
The grungy dub of Fever surfaces on “Under the Earth” and “Buried Alive,” the latter featuring an out-of-place contribution by persona rapper Dr. Octagon. However, the highlight comes on the title track with straightforward hard rock bolstered by Karen’s boisterous violence/sexuality. Mosquito may be the least enduring Yeah Yeah Yeahs album to date, but it should thrill regardless.
Watch the music video for “Sacrilege” below.
Contact Erik Weiner at [email protected].