Karen O and company synth and jam their way past repetition. – My Grade: 8.5/10
By Andrew Perez
Coming off the slow sales and rough tour of 2006’s Show Your Bones, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs were on a mission to show that they were not a two album wonder. This New York band can rest assure, they accomplished this and more. With It’s Blitz!, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs trounced any beliefs that this would be a repeat of their previous two records as each member of the band reaches to new heights.
Guitarist Nick Zinner, who wails the guitar among the generation’s best, did the unthinkable and focused his efforts on the synthesizer. This is clearly a case of high risk, high reward as the 80s mainstay instrument undoubtedly added a new dimension of sound that the band was yearning for. Adding to this is vocalist, Karen O who shows that she isn’t backing down any time soon, but she seems to be growing quite impatient, “Shame is soft and sane/lose when I play your game/come if you call my name.” This anxiety translates to the vehemence of this album which avoids overbearingly strident sounds and instead, finds harmony in its fierce melodies.
It’s Blitz! oscillates from arena jams to more intimate tracks, but at all times it delivers exuberance. The album is a dramatic shift from the band’s previous two albums as It’s Blitz captures a motif of the majestic as dreamy songs such as, “Skeleton” and “Soft Shock” are played early and often. Although some tracks may compel you to the dance floor, tunes like “Little Shadow” deliver us to reflection because however tough the vocalist may seem on some tracks, Karen O still wants you to know that she still has a soft side.
On “Runaway”, the band brings back the compassion of their 2003 hit “Maps”, but the message here is one of desperation. “Runaway lost my mind/ like you to stay/want you to be my prize.” It’s precisely these gentler tracks that add to the band’s image as rockers who aren’t afraid show their true feelings. Yet, as songs like the Kanye West-approved track “Heads Will Roll”, blasts through speakers, you’ll see that they also like to have a good time.
Adding to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs sound are fellow New Yorkers and band favorite’s, TV on the Radio, who come off their own exceptional album to contribute to yet another. David Andrew Sitek is back for the third time as the Yeah Yeah Yeahs producer while Tunde Adembimpe contributes vocals and Kyp Malone adds trombone to “Dragon Queen.”
The Yeah Yeah Yeahs not only escaped the dreaded platitude on their third album, they created a new sound for themselves that mashes the excitement of 2003’s Fever to Tell with the darker nature of 2006’s Show Your Bones. Even though the album was produced in the desert of Texas and in a desolate land in Massachusetts, these backdrops cannot be heard on any of the tracks. These new sounds more closely resemble the panache of some foreign world rather than either of its recording homes. However, in It’s Blitz!, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs still retain their trademark of displaying compassion, but just as they seemingly drift into wallowing, Karen O, Zinner, and Chase blast sounds that compel you to move your feet. On “Hysteric” Karen O cries: “The cinders, they light the path/these strange steps take us back.” After listening to this 10-track gem, the only thing one can ask from this New York band is to retrace their own steps and, please, take us back.