Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Thu, Apr 2, 2009 (midnight)
The East Coast trio, long beloved for a raw minimalism as encapsulated by guitarist Nick Zinner’s deceptively muscular struts, kicks off its third album with an instrumental 180 from the rock-steady riffage introduced on 2003’s trailblazing Fever to Tell. The hints of skittering electro and spacey ambiance from sophomore effort Show Your Bones have stretched, flexed and come out swinging, with opening one-two punch of “Zero” and “Heads Will Roll” delivering a sweaty, futuristic, infinitely joyous onslaught of dance-floor bliss.
Firebrand frontwoman Karen O’s coos and squeals remain as sex-soaked as ever, and not far into the ride it becomes clear that no matter what manner of “trendy” territory is explored, her vocals are the uniting, identifying glue. So pervading are her endearing pop wiles, the girl could be singing country-western ballads and each twang would indelibly bear the Yeah Yeah Yeahs stamp. But country-western balladry this ain’t, with programmed drums and abundant synth lending “Dull Life” a rise-and-fall-and-rise-again swagger and infusing “Dragon Queen” with unabashed disco slink.
For all the front-loaded sound and fashion fury, however, the bulk of cuts are comparatively calmer introspections in the mold of past breakout hit “Maps.” They belie a band that’s no longer purely manic but measured. Hypnotic weeper “Skeletons” wouldn’t seem out of place in the background of a windswept nature documentary, and the gorgeous love-struck haze of “Hysteria” comes across as anything but. Elsewhere, sparse piano juxtaposes with a cascade of building strings to give the longing “Runaway” both a certain cinematic scope and undeniable emotional heft.
If the Yeahs of the past represented a quick and overtly skeezy screw, consider It’s Blitz! mature musical lovemaking. How committed they’ll remain to the sound shall be seen, but they’re certainly having fun in the meantime.