Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Mosquito

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs have created a surprisingly average fourth album that can only leave one hoping that they haven’t burned out.

Additional Info

6.2

ALBUM: Mosquito

ARTIST: Yeah Yeah Yeahs

2013

Alternative

The anarchic, unsettling punk rockers, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, after four years, have given birth to their fourth album. From being on the rock ‘n’ roll scene since 2001 in New York, the band has created an infamous reputation for invigorating punk turmoil that has given them the heavy title of bringing life back to the fading genre of rock ‘n’ roll. Along with little bands such as The White Stripes, The Strokes, and Interpol, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs have been acclaimed to being part of what is called the “Class of 2001” where these bands graduated from small venues of the city and brought their uncontainable punk spirit to the music industries foreground. While Britney Spears and the unforgettable boy bands of the new millennium were taking their fame to a worldwide level and depleting the existence of punk and rock ‘n’ roll bands, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, among others, were gaining popularity with the hyperbolic lead singer persona of Karen O, where outlandish outfits and embalming oneself in olive oil were attracting attention to their live act. The trio consisting of Karen O, Nick Zinner, and Brian Chase, were giving their audiences a nostalgic musical experience with symbols of smeared makeup, sweat, and smashed bear bottles. At a fast pace the band took over the radio waves with their single "Maps", and continued to grow in aesthetic and sound, here they are now with their fourth album, Mosquito, being a long-awaited release.

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs have never been afraid or hesitant within their music on breaking the boundaries of sound whether it be flashing back to old school punk on their first album Fever to Tell or playing around with the funky genre of disco and avant pop on It’s Blitz. They always seem to have a vision or grasp on their targeted sound for their album. But the same cannot be said of Mosquito. The band wrote and recorded much of their fourth album in New Orleans, which is where one can see the theme of a soulful voodoo jazzy feel. This is especially apparent on intro track "Sacrilege" as the band experiments with a wonderfully suspenseful buildup and gospel choir at the end of the track. Other tracks such as "Slave", "Buried Alive", and "Under the Earth" contain a spooky undertone with muffled and eerie sounds along with morbid lyrics. Although the album may have an underlying theme the production and sound of Mosquito is a bit scattered. It seems forced, haphazard. The album does not have the same development as previous albums; their final destination of emotional conclusion on this album is confused.

The album starts off confident with a triumphant introduction that fades into "Subway", which is a soothing and creepy ode to the underground rails of the city but has no transition from "Sacrilege" and just shoots the high down that was aroused by the introduction. The album continues its wonky tour of Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ creative genius with Mosquito, but besides from the catchy punk chorus the rest of the song is tedious and underdeveloped. The album just continues to fall downhill with a few tracks that keep it alive such as "Under the Earth", "Despair", and "Wedding Song". The second single off the album, "Despair', is a decent track that carries the signature subtle punk momentum that the Yeah Yeah Yeahs have executed flawlessly on tracks such as "Maps" and "Soft Shock". In order to get to this track though the album undergoes a hurricane of messy topics and inconsistent production with a track about aliens, "Area 52", and a track that is completely unnecessary with a verse from Dr. Octagon, "Buried Alive". Theoretically, yes, a verse from the surrealist rapper Kool Keith could have the potential to be awesome, but it also has the potential to crash and burn; this is exactly what happened. It just seems as though the band was unorganized on their purpose with this album.

What seems like an album of heavy experimentation with abnormal topics and inventive use of production with the sounds of subway tracks and a rap verse seem like a struggle to stay relevant. Most of the album seems rushed or too familiar with no inspiration or energy that the band usually does not have a problem projecting. For a band that is usually a spontaneous hot mess that works in all the right ways, that excites and inspires, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs have created a surprisingly average and disappointing fourth album that can only leave one hoping that they haven’t burned out.

"So much feeling went into this record, it was the rope ladder thrown down into the ditch for us to climb up and dust ourselves off. I hope others can climb up it too; we're excited to share the good vibes."

1. Sacrilege
The album opens with a suspenseful and voodoo infested track that starts off subtle and daunting. The soulful drums of Brian Chase kick in with the lethargic fuzz guitar line provided by Nick Zinner as Karen O’s voice wavers in and out of high-pitched screams and an airy coo. The wailing guitar escalates into a chaotic gospel choir chorus that could blow the roof off a church. The spiritual feel of the song is cohesive with the content as Karen O sings of breaking the celibacy of a religious male, potentially a priest. The song is compelling and strikes a nerve of curiosity as Karen screams, “Fallen for a guy/fell down from the sky/ halo round his head/ feathers in our bed.” The song’s ability to keep increasing in momentum is a success, but the choir seems to come out of nowhere. The fault with this track is its incoherence with the entire album. It is a lazy attempt at a track that tries to reach for something deeper, but just seems to come off a little satanic and tacky. 8.0
2. Subway
The polar opposite of the opening track, "Subway" is a pulsating and hypnotic ride that takes one into the cellars of the city. The genius of the song lies in Karen O’s weightless vocals and subway track noise as the main beat. It’s soothing and something that one can get easily lost in. “I’m waiting and I’m waiting,” sings Karen O and that is exactly what everyone else is doing. The song never reaches a climax or ending for that matter. One could look at the song as an ode to the subway ride as a monotonous and never ending cycle that only ends when one gets off. The track fades out with no development to show for it, leaving it left for dead. 7.5
3. Mosquito
This track is trying to carry the same voodoo essence of "Sacrilege" and the cool, edgy chorus of the song is sexy with the repetitive bongos in the back, but let’s be reminded that she is singing about being a mosquito. The ode to the vampire bug track. This track is not worth anyone’s time. It’s surprising that this track was used so early on in the album as the only thing it would be used for successfully is taking up space. Any die-hard Twilight or True Blood fans are sure to be aroused by the chorus, but other than that the track’s messy and unfortunate nature is a waste of recording time. 4.0
4. Under the Earth
This track salvages the integrity of the album. The rumbling and dirty bass line and distorted vocals along with the haunting mood of the track brings in the pop alternative sound that the Yeah Yeah Yeahs have perfected over the years. However, this track is not perfection, it simply stays afloat and gets by without completely falling flat. “Down, down under the earth goes another lover/ twelve times puts a hex on you,” keeps the eerie and spooky vibe that Mosquito tries to conjure. Overall the song passes with dull colors as it brings nothing but an interesting atmosphere and a dreary rhythm. 7.5
5. Slave
It’s another track on the album that seems to follow the pattern of dull simplicity. Not saying that this track is unsuccessful or a failure, but just like the previous track, Slave seems to conjure nothing compelling. The track has a simple and enjoyable guitar melody along with the Caribbean sounding bass line. Karen O’s vocals fade in and out and hold a type of haunting feeling. Her tone is devious and light; it’s breathtaking at times. “It eats your soul/ like tears you fall my slave,” Karen O sings. The lyrics are vague and open for interpretation but really hold no significance with the melody or album. 7.5
6. These Paths
With Incessant percussion and fluttering keyboard chords this tracks strays from the rock sound that is familiar to the band, instead they take the more electronic route. The song is spacious and borders on being boring. Karen O’s vocals sound out of place and awkward as her pitch sharpens and tends to go all over without the background ever changing. There is no movement within the song leaving it flat. The song seems like an experiment gone wrong and leaves the listener with nothing. It’s a mess. 5.0
7. Area 52
The guitar chords sound a little bad ass at the very beginning, but as soon as the alarm sound effects chime in and Karen O starts singing about aliens, all hope is lost for this song. “I wanna be an alien,” sounds like a futuristic take on a Ramones song. The track is basically all over the place from childish lyrics to the noise filled, shriek-infested melody. It’s just not good, not good at all. 4.0
8. Buried Alive
The fact that the Yeah Yeah Yeahs have collaborated with Dr. Octagon is proof that this album is more on the unexpected side, leaning towards what could be a complete disaster. The audacity that the band had to try and put a track like this together is admirable. Although it was not as awful as one might think on paper, it’s still not good. The production work that is done by James Murphy, former LCD Sound System head, is not half bad and seems to be the only semi-successful section of the track. But the track seems as a whole inconsistent on the album with the opening guitar chords that sound as if the song was cut right in the middle; it sounds haphazard and unfinished. And the rap verse by Doctor Octagon is something else, and not in a good way. The fact that he mentions vampires and raising the dead should be enough detail on his rap aesthetic. The collaboration is not cohesive and random like mixing Weird Al Yankovic and The Strokes. No. 3.5
9. Always
This romantic ballad is a Caribbean cosmic journey that sounds like a cross of Beach House and Youth Lagoon. The track is simple in content and rhythm with twinkling melodies and Karen O’s voice that lingers airlessly. “Always/ Forget the time, forever mine/ Impossibility is possible to me/ To me and you, we’ll see it through,” Karen sings with a sparkling synth background and calming clap melody that make the song feel hollow. This track is another curve ball that strays from their signature spontaneous punk roots. It is refreshing to some degree but after about a minute feels tedious and bothersome. 5.0
10. Despair
The strongest track of the album, do not be fooled by the song title. This track follows the same simple and modest pattern of the rest of Mosquito but it is triumphant and reminiscent of some of their older tracks from previous albums such as Zero. The subtle electric guitar at the beginning and relentless energetic drumbeat builds the song’s momentum. The track holds an emotional traction that the rest of the album seems to lack with lyrics such as, “Through the darkness and the light/ some sun has got to rise/ my sun is your sun/ your sun is my sun.” The track has nothing too exciting about it, but its simplicity and optimistic nature keeps its light from fading out.8.0
11. Wedding Song
The ending track for this album is a bit unexpected since it is delicate and light, unlike the rest of the album. It’s a subtle and beautiful track with the pounding drums that reflect the thumping of a love filled heartbeat. “Some kind of violent bliss/ led me to a love like this/ one thousand deaths my dear/ I’m dying without you here,” Karen O coos the sweet wedding vows. The love song is a successful track in that it is dynamically simple and pleasant to the ear, but the fact that it really has no place on the album and, comes out of no where, is confusing and does not make for the best closing track. 8.5
Written by Margaret Farrell
Margaret Farrell is a writer from outside Chicago. She is currently a student at New York University, studying journalism and creative writing.



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