Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Mosquito

Yeah Yeah Yeahs stay ahead of the curve....
Yeah Yeah Yeahs : Mosquito
8.1 Interscope

Yeah Yeah Yeahs : MosquitoNew York’s Yeah Yeah Yeahs were ahead of the curve on going electro-dance, jumping pretty much right from their indie-garage breakthrough origins to more electronics on 2009’s It’s Blitz! (QRO review).  After that, the band went on another hiatus for other projects, like singer Karen O’s soundtrack to ex-boyfriend Spike Jonze’s Where the Wild Things Are (QRO soundtrack review), or guitarist Nick Zimmer’s various art projects (drummer Brian Chase has always been your reviewer’s favorite…).  When they finally returned in the run-up to the release of Mosquito, there was so much non-musical hubbub about their return that it threatened to overshadow the actual album – O’s predilection for outlandish outfits (QRO photos) threatened to make them more of a ‘fashion band’, the kind that’s more talked about than actually listened to.  However, Mosquito has (once again) proved the band’s musical bona fides, by diving into a haunt.

Mosquito opens up with a dance-haunt at the start of opener/first single “Sacrilege” that well captures older and newer Yeah Yeah Yeahs – but then the piece goes big, gospel choir back-up singers big, for a whole new Yeah.  An ominous air hangs throughout Mosquito.  Sometimes it’s grand like “Sacrilege”, or love song to loss “Despair” at the end, which is as enveloping as the emotion.  Other times it is just straight haunting and empty – “Subway” sees O lost on the tracks of the MTA, while the band strips down to just vox, tones, and beat on “These Paths”.

But there are also upbeat numbers, where the band smiles in face of disaster.  O is practically ecstatic about the subject of the title track when she screams, “He’ll suck your blood!”  Meanwhile, the band saves the planet from alien invaders in “Area 52”.  That’s followed by “Buried Alive”, a driving piece with a mid-song rap by Dr. Octagon – the rap isn’t as ill fitting when you listen to the song more.

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs could have rested on their laurels after early successes (like fellow Lower East Sider boomers The Strokes did…), but instead they changed just ahead of the times for It’s Blitz!.  And the band could have stayed still while the rest of the world caught up, but instead pushed forward even more impressively with Mosquito.

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