“It’s kind of like a Yeah Yeah Yeahs soul record, our version of one” chimed Karen O – Yeah Yeah Yeahs front woman and femme fatale extraordinaire – when discussing Mosquito with Noisey this month. It’s the back end of this statement which carries the weight, but 4 LPs in, aren’t we used to the New York trio re-jigging brand YYYs? – Perhaps, but this is more a re-haul than a re-jig.
A quick glance at Mosquito’s album artwork should make it clear that the Yeah Yeah Yeahs have only accentuated the bawdiness that originally fashioned their oeuvre; the same bawdiness which propelled third LP It’s Blitz! to the attention of the masses.
The bands interest in religion is bombastically executed in opener ‘Sacrilege’, which enforces smiles on the first and tenth listen as Karen Orzolek’s whipped vocals cut through instrumentation like a dagger to a jam sponge.
Elsewhere, complexities arise as hardy themes evaporate and make space for a bizarre interest in cyber space. Space dealings or otherwise, the less emotionally grounded moments of Mosquito often reach for deft innovation – but commonly little is reached. Take ‘Under the Earth’ – which largely alienates (wahey).
Fanatics and any with their glasses half full will treat Mosquito as a thrill ride; but those less available for persuasion will be lost at the first hurdle.
The hideous cover art and overblown sci-fi imagery which adorn Mosquito may either be the cause of or the reaction to the minimal hype surrounding the album’s release. Its general ‘loudness’ – something the YYYs always do well – seems a bid for attention as fresh ideas start to run dry.
It has, after all, been a lengthy hiatus. While 2009’s It’s Blitz brimmed with relevant electro chic, Mosquito – if it has any unified sound – mostly recalls the punky days of the band’s breakthrough Fever To Tell.
That, however, was a whole decade ago. Mosquito simply lacks innovative songsmithery, opting instead for a kooky, disparate portfolio requiring some listener persistence.
The single ‘Sacrilege’ is the pick of the bunch; its gospel outro whipping up a sense of melodrama also evidenced on chunky, alien-conspiracy rockers ‘Under The Earth’ and ‘Area 52’ – both of which might have been cooked up on a Muse chatroom.
While there are occasionally exploratory rhythms (see particularly ‘These Paths’), the awkward, unedifying commentaries on the band’s preview video suggest that too much of Mosquito is born of wanton randomness.
And a surfeit of inessential tracks makes you wonder if, beneath the costumes and the idiosyncrasies, there’s still much substance to it all.
When Yeah Yeah Yeahs last released an album I still had my favourite pair of trainers. They were white with a little red trim; springy but comfortable. There was power in those soles. Until one day while I was out and… Actually that’s story for another time.
The Karen O posse are back with Mosquito; a far more soulful affair than previous outings.
The album opens with ‘Sacrilege’, a classic YYYs song in the making. Oozing Karen O’s garish charm as the music flows and weaves its way around her; add overblown gospel choir and you may have a hit.
‘These Paths’ is a dreamier outing, though the vibe is killed at times when Karen O’s vocals feature more than is necessary.
The album finishes with two more tracks of note, in the polarising ‘Despair’/ ‘Wedding Song’. It made me think of the light. The one comes on in a club as the last song plays and suddenly you have to observe in stark reality the depravity and grime you had previously been wallowing happily in.
YYYs have created a nice little album. It’s not going to blow your mind or anything. Your neural pathways are safe for now, unless of course you happen to wonder upon The Barran’s evil path. Then my friend you are very far from being safe.
The band previewed Mosquito over at Vice Noisey <object width="640" height="360"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/jmRI3Ew4BvA?hl=en_GB&version=3&rel=0"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/jmRI3Ew4BvA?hl=en_GB&version=3&rel=0" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="640" height="360" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"></embed></object>