In the year 2002 and 2003 the Yeah Yeah Yeahs hit the indie scene with a certain verocity and vitality that kept us all on the edge of our seats, seething with anticipation for future releases. Fever to Tell, for the most part, lived up to the expectations, though it still felt a little clean in comparison. Jump seven years ahead, and we have It’s Blitz, the latest effort from the band. The distance couldn’t be greater.
One of the first elements that you will notice upon listening to the first track “Zero” is that frontwoman, Karen O, seems to have lost a bit of her animalistic prowess, as if she has been caged in a zoo. The ferocity in her voice on the opening track, and the entirety of the album is rather lacking. Where we once lauded her for her passion and energy, we’re now left confused by what seems a sort mild indifference. Still, she does demonstrate her ability to carry a note here, but we saw such abilities on “Maps.”
Much will be made in the press for this album about the entirely new sound the band has come to take upon themselves. The brashness and angular guitar work from previous efforts has completely disappeared; electronics samples and tired beats have replaced the fervor that once existsed as a tractor beam for listeners everywhere.
Mellow songs, such as “Skeletons” do show the band willing to explore that sonic range outside of their traditional forays, but such moments don’t seem as well mapped out this time around. It’s difficult when listening to such tracks to figure out where the band was going, which loses some listeners, encouraging them to skip ahead to the next track. “Runaway” is another such song, and the piano structure just isn’t enough to psuh the song in any new direction.
“Dull Life” is one of the few songs on the album that seems to recall the past greatness of Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Still, even when this song picks up the pace, where are those demonic guitar licks from Nick Zinner? It’s as if the man traded in his trusted axe for a child’s hatchet, a bejewled one nonetheless.
All in all, the album has some moments that every listener will most likely enjoy, but it doesn’t seem like this is really enough to warrant repeated listens. The band shows their maturity as a group, but they discard everything that made them abrasive and frightening, exchanging them instead for a bunch of furry rabbits that you keep in a cage behind your house. Sure, electronic moments make for great sound, but this band isn’t the one that was supposed to be giving those to us. We asked them to break us down with passion and voice, but instead they just want to hold hands and walk along the beach.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Zero