FROM: NEW YORK
SOUND: INDIE ROCK
Beginning with lead single ‘Sacrilege,’ the band work themselves into a soul choir-backed gospel frenzy. Interesting vocal delivery and noodling guitar licks are anchored down by Brian Chase’s consistently creative drumming. His efforts on the skins throughout the record are inspired and directional. The man has a clear handle on how to create groove and colour through dynamic playing. For a band whose early career was built on chaos, the YYYs are sounding focused here, whilst still retaining an exciting tension between control and release. As the repeated choral refrain dies out at the end of ‘Sacrilege’, it's clear that the band is setting themselves a challenge in sonic exploration. Like Bloc Party and other indie acts born circa 2003, they shift and grow with each record, responding the landscape around them. It seems to be working.
For a record named after an annoying bloodsucker, there are some surprisingly beautiful moments within. ‘Subway’ uses NYC subway train samples to create a downbeat atmospheric slow burner. Karen O yearns convincingly, with tender accompaniment from guitarist Nick Zinner. Closing number, ‘Wedding Song’, is similarly evocative and showcases the band’s ability for earnest storytelling. The addition of a heartbeat resembling loop keeps the track grounded and pulsing with warm energy.
The Yeah Yeah Yeahs sure know how to cut an album.
There are of course plenty of post-punk jams and proto-dance tracks to cushion these ballads and ensure the record holds a dynamic range of moods. The title track is at once rowdy and whispered. Sexualised lyrics are drawled out of the grinding band, tremolo guitar work imitating the approaching bloodsucker.
YYYs are definitely a studio band. The ability to refine and produce their sound is essential to the kind of tracks they write and none more so than here. ‘Mosquito’ is a detailed album bursting with catchy ideas and competent songwriting. Even if they sometimes struggle to get it together onstage, the YYYs have achieved another strong record and it deserves some attention.