Choirs, weird artwork and more instruments. One-upmanship is a common thing between bands – rivals that go bigger and better on their newest releases in an attempt to blow the other out of the water. This can often go terribly wrong (hi there, Kings of Leon). It’s a much more curious thing altogether when a band simply one-ups itself every time they release an album, and Yeah Yeah Yeahs are one of those bands.
Mosquito is the New Yorker’s fourth studio album. They don’t come around very often but when they do we and the media fall in love with them all over again, they soundtrack our summers and then they disappear. For ages. It’s been four years since their last album, but from the opening seconds of first track Sacrilege, you know they were never really gone.
Karen O has the ability to make every half-baked rhyming couplet sound amazing, even when it’s ‘fallen for a guy, fell down from the sky.’ The song takes place ‘in our bed’ and as the steady, familiar ride and snare of drummer Brian Chase tumbles into view it is glorious business as usual as the Broadway Inspirational Voices join in for the thrilling climax.
But this isn’t a bad thing. Ever since they arrived on the NYC scene in 2001, alongside The Strokes and Interpol, they have been continuously evolving. Anyone who says those two bands’ best albums aren’t their debuts is lying. Yet Yeah Yeah Yeahs don’t fall into that trap. Each new album is a brilliant new chapter of their life as a band. Subway gently and beautifully samples the simple click-clack of an underground train as Karen O laments a fleeting moment in time.
The spiky title track and the thundering, disco flecked Slave continue to slap you about the face and remind you that this is a band in the vein of old, from the pre-Internet days where a band still had a mystique. They are only ever judged, and loved, by what they create and that is a marker of a truly great group.
Area 52 begins with a futuristic Kinks riff before sirens burst the song into life and into space. Buried Alive features enigmatic rapper Dr Octagon and is produced by LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy, but it never feels like a cash-in. Because when a song pulsates with foreboding bass, laser-spike guitars and the commanding voice of a rap overlord, it’s only ever going to be amazing.
Mosquito won’t get played on Radio 1, but it will get played at parties, in cars, at barbeques and in bedrooms, because that’s where they belong. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs are a band to treasure and hey, they made a choir sound good on a rock record. Kudos.