Yeah Yeah Yeahs, ‘Mosquito’ – Album Review
One thing for sure about Yeah Yeah Yeahs: They rarely sound like they’re on autopilot, even when they are. Their fourth album, ‘Mosquito,’ doesn’t come off a whole lot different than their other three. The trio – singer Karen O, guitarist Nick Zinner and drummer Brian Chase -- has gotten tighter as a band, and they’re taking a few more musical risks these days, but aside from a few surface details, ‘Mosquito’ doesn’t try too hard to shake things up.
Which is good news following 2009’s ‘It’s a Blitz!’ a record that was supposed to make the NYC band pop stars. But things didn’t quite work out that way, and the album turned out to be less exciting, and less of a chart presence, than its predecessor, 2006’s ‘Show Your Bones.’ ‘Mosquito’ is basically Yeah Yeah Yeahs doing what they do best: playing art-damaged indie rockers who want you to know that they like all the right bands and know all the right people.
On ‘Mosquito,’ that means hooking up with LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy for a song, TV on the Radio’s Dave Sitek for a few others and recruiting bizarro indie rapper Dr. Octagon for a track. There’s even a choir on one song and another inspired by dubby ‘70s roots reggae. It’s a mixed and scattered bag, but Yeah Yeah Yeahs sound committed to nearly every single note of it.
From the opening ‘Sacrilege,’ the one with the choir and the album’s most immediately grabbing cut, to the moody NYC homage ‘Subway’ to the big-ballad closer ‘Wedding Song,’ ‘Mosquito’ was made for the band’s devoted fans. Zinner’s jagged guitar riffs, the songs’ rat-a-tat rhythms, the hipster-punk aesthetic -- they’re all here, marching like an army out to free the hopeful, ironic-facial-hair-sporting masses.
And then there’s Karen O’s piercing yelps on the title track, a buzzing metaphor for who knows what. But the “I’ll suck your blood” choruses sure do sting on a primal level. And that’s pretty much how Yeah Yeah Yeahs hit you these days. There’s nothing surprising or shocking or even all that great about their music anymore. But don’t tell them that. They’re still playing with the same dedication as they were 10 years ago.