Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Mosquito
To say that this has been a long time coming is somewhat of an understatement. It has been over four years since the release of their last notable release, the superb It’s Blitz, and one could have been forgiven for completely forgetting about the New York trio in the meantime. But back they are, with new album Mosquito.
The band’s worrying transition from angular rock band to a sort of disco pop act has thusfar been slightly tempered by the fact that they had continued to create stunningly good albums. Ordinarily it would be easy to moan about the band losing their edge or even (god forbid) “selling out”, as latter tracks such as Heads Will Roll were considerably more commercial than their early material. However, singer Karen O’s charisma and the band’s natural gift for rhythm was always evident, even back in the grubby shouty rock of Date With The Night and Rich. The stylistic change was significant, but they made it seem like natural progression.
Sadly, for me, Mosquito seems like it might be a step too far.
It’s probably worth noting that it’s not a bad album, far from it. Tracks such as Subway and the title track (in spite of it’s slightly brainless lyrics) are very accomplished songs, while Buried Alive, featuring the brilliant (and equally long-term absentee) rapper Dr Octagon is a standout moment.
My trouble is, that this isn’t the band that I fell in love with. I remember (Wanky music kudos alert!) going to see them in a sweaty little venue in 2003 and leaving, covered in beer, with a sense that I had witnessed a very special moment. I loved their debut album Fever To Tell so much that it was always going to be difficult for the band to follow.
They changed their tack, getting poppier and more keyboard-driven, with excellent results. I accepted this much in the way that most Radiohead fans have enjoyed Kid A and In Rainbows… They were great releases. But, much like many a Radiohead fan wishes they’d stop farting around and make another Bends or OK Computer, I wished that they’d dump the keyboards and let Nick Zinner start thrashing his guitar again. Sadly, in both the case of YYY’s and Radiohead, it appears that the band have moved on permanently.
So, where does this leave the album? Well as I said, Mosquito is a decent release with a spattering of good songs. If you fell in love with the band around the time of It’s Blitz, then this comes strongly recommended. You may well love it. If you are, like me, still harping back to a bygone era, then you may be disappointed. I want the stomping, loudness of MY Yeah Yeah Yeahs back, but it appears that ship has sailed. It’s time to accept their new direction or move on. Only time will tell which path is the right one.
By Harry Harland