ARTIST: Yeah Yeah Yeahs
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."