The Yeah Yeah Yeahs were one of those bands I was really into during the “Rock Revival” of the early 2000’s thanks to their distinctly New York Punk sound and Karen O’s undeniable presence and charisma as a frontwoman. The band has lost a bit of its punk edge mostly seen in its early days but that sure doesn’t make them any less enjoyable. Their evolution has kept them rather entertaining in a whole new light.
The album starts with “Sacrilege,” which features a gospel choir to help finish off the second half of the song. It’s the strongest song on the album and holds the greatest Pop appeal, thanks to a sound that appears to pick up where “Heads Will Roll” left off. “Subway” was inspired by New York, sampling the sound of a running train for the beat. It’s a bit slow and doesn’t pack the punch or attitude that you’d imagine an ode to the city that never sleeps would have but it’s still worth a listen for its production.
“Mosquito” sounds like it took the Talking Heads’ “Psycho Killer,” mainly because of the bass line but also brings about the idea of what that’d sound like if The Talking Heads had gone for a more punk sound rather than New Wave. It’s got a super catchy chorus and you must really feel like singing along to O when she belts out “suck your blood.”
“Under the Earth” is the Yyys take on the Roots Reggae genre. It’s got a slow-tempo beat with a good use of a cowbell and mesmerizing effects. “Slave” starts out slow, but when it gets going it reminds you what the Yeah Yeah Yeahs are all about. The drumming is spectacular while the guitar is subtle yet such a key component to the overall sound, and Karen O’s sultry voice is put on full display.
“These paths” is a peculiar track. The medical marijuana-fueled track brings to mind Radiohead, incorporating an Electronic Rock sound and production. This is a song that you hear more for what it sounds like than what it says. “Area 52” is described by the band as “the perfect B-Side.” This song is, of course, about aliens and it features equally cosmic production effects (but not in a cheesy way) and lyrics. Best of all it features this excellent riff that you can’t help but bob your head to. Despite the B-Side tendencies the band believes it holds, it truly has “single” potential and it certainly boasts Pop qualities that can help propel it into a mosh-pit-creating fan-favorite at live shows.
“Buried Alive” is another one of those adventurous tracks on this album. The track features Kool Keith and James Murphy on production duties. “Doctor Octagon’s” verse comes out of left field yet the beat works perfectly to his style. “Always” is described by the band as it’s most beautiful track on Mosquito, one about love and Karen O went on to dub it the “engagement song.” It is indeed a sweet song; the production takes a much simpler approach as it evokes a genuinely positive feeling; the synthesizers have the most prevalent sound but the percussion is what stuck in my mind the most.
“Despair” is a song about overcoming a negative situation, rather than simply having a dark experience and sulking in it. When Karen O sings “If it’s out of my head, there’s nothing to fear inside” you understand that she’s overcome something big and has now found peace. Recorded with live birds somewhere along the border around Juarez, “Wedding Song” is one of the more epic songs of this release with talks of angels and a sound that’s equally playing on those themes.
Overall, this is a Rock album that doesn’t “Rock” in the old sense of the term but it sure doesn’t fail to bring some good sounds. It relies on synthesizers a lot more than the typical Rock records I listen to, but the Yeah Yeah Yeahs don’t make it the focal point of their new sound, showing they can evolve and keep their edge. This release shows a more mature sound from the NYC trio, drawing more from some of their influences and the changing landscape of the genre rather than stagnating and relying on their past triumphs. While it deserves several spins in order to fully get this album as a whole, Mosquito is a solid record that’s worth adding to your collection of contemporary music.
Key tracks: “Sacrilege,” “Mosquito,” “Area 52,” Slave”