REVIEW: “Mosquito” by Yeah Yeah Yeahs (by Thomas Oliver)

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Sacrilege You Say?

When I first listened to ‘It’s Blitz!’ I got a little worried with the possible ‘direction’ one of my favourite influences might be heading in. I loved the likes of Heads Will Roll, Dull Life and Shame & Fortune but the mellower synth driven electronic tracks like Zero, Soft Shock, Dragon Queen had me listening with a slightly raised eyebrow. I know artists must develop and progress their sound -otherwise we would all just end up listening to the same thing over and over again- but the reason why I love Yeah Yeah Yeahs so much is that they were a raw batshit-crazy trio from New York who injected a jolt of energy into the dull music scene at the time. My concern with ‘Mosquito’ was that I might end up listening to album akin to The Gossips ‘A Joyful Noise’…

Sacrilege is a powerful opener. Halfway through the song a gospel choir jumps out at you, snaps its fingers three times and put your ass in place. Possibly my favourite off the whole album, and it would make me rethink my personal top five Yeah Yeah Yeahs songs.

We are brought back down onto a midnight train platform for Subway. It makes me fall in love with Mr Zinner’s beautiful simplicity all over again. This is a ‘turn the lights off and disappear from the rest of the world’ kind of song. If you do get lost however, just play guessing games on what guitar effects he is using. Otherwise enjoy the ride and see where you end up.

Title track Mosquito is fun but a bit of a novelty. It has an uncannily familiar bass line, childish lyrics and squeaky sounds, similar with Area 52.

Under The Earth is that mix of old and new which we heard in ‘It’s Blitz!’ Spooky lyrics and a reggae style paned vocal delay intertwine giving it an atmospherically haunting feel.

It’s almost as if they tried to hide the odd bits in the middle of the album and hoped they wouldn’t cause too much trouble. Karen-O sounds as if she received a vocoder for Christmas and wrote These Paths the day she plugged it in.

Yes, Buried Alive has a rapper ‘feat.’on one of the verse, Dr Octagon to be exact (although I’m not certain what he has his doctorate in). It’s a very different approach for the Yeah Yeah Yeahs sound but it’s only one verse, I sure we can all get over it.

The album ends with three rather pretty songs. Always and Wedding Song fall into the mellow synth category from ‘It’s Blitz!’ where as Despairis more reminiscent of an early Yeah Yeah Yeahs style ballad from ‘Show Your Bones’.

A light must be shone on the two little hidden gems in the bonus tracks; a demo version of Subway (track 12) and acoustic version of Wedding Song (track 13). I personally like these more than the ones that made it onto the album. I find
outtake/extras very intimate and fulfil that voyeuristic desire we have of the ones we admire. Especially the acoustic version of Subway, it’s a beautiful ode to New York City, a first since the B-Side Yeah, New York.

‘Mosquito’ as an album is an eclectic mix of various styles, sounds and influences. I don’t think there is a definite ‘direction’ that the Yeah Yeah Yeahs are heading in, except for one that incorporates diversity and a more produced sound. It is an attempt to both move forward into new ground whilst still retaining the majority of fans. A difficult task for any artist. There will always be the hardcore ‘fans ’who will say a band has sold out after their first album. But with that aside, I think ‘Mosquito’ will enlist a new onslaught of Yeah Yeah Yeahs devotees as well as maintaining those who love the band for what they are. And after all, isn’t that point? Making music for others and yourself to enjoy? Still, if you don’t like this album you can always just listen to ‘Fever To Tell’ on repeat.

Oh PS, the giant mosquito in the room? The album cover was designed by South Korean animator Beomsik Shimbe Shim, and yeah it’s ridiculous. It most likely reflects Karen-O’s taste in movies, but still it’s ridiculous. Not that Yeah Yeah Yeahs would care about that though.

By: Thomas Oliver

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