Yeah Yeah Yeahs Mosquito(Interscope) Buy it from Insound
Maybe the opening song is too good. After the widespread acclaim that It’s Blitz received, Mosquito was always going to be a struggle. There’s no doubt that most music lovers will be a little disappointed with Mosquito. It’s Blitz was by no means perfect, but it certainly showed the band moving towards an interesting style. With the electronic influence creeping in and more of a focus on great pop songs, Yeah Yeah Yeahs had seemed to have stopped making repetitious tracks. Seemed to. Mosquito is a big back step in that department. Yeah, those early songs were repetitious, yet they managed to get away with it by being incredibly exciting punk thrashes. But with less of a dynamic edge to these tracks, they’re instantly forgettable. Under the Earth is solidly dull. There’s no guitar wail, no scream from Karen O to keep your attention. Following track Slave can be described in the exact same way. As can the next, These Paths. Maybe it’s a struggle to really get your teeth into Mosquito because of the track listing; the three song dry patch after Mosquito is a huge problem considering the ease these days of being able to find something more interesting to listen to. Placing Subway after Sacrilege is a huge error too. You don’t put the slowest stuff on straight after the shouting exciting stuff do you? You don’t put Coldplay on after Jimi Hendrix. Subway is centred on a quiet sample of a subway train and a slow guitar. It’s fairly haunting but after that title track it’s infuriatingly slow. Which brings me onto the opening song.
Sacrilege is a strong contender for song of the year. For anyone yet to hear it, check out the Letterman performance. First verse and you’re expecting a simple pop track, Karen O flits between a soft purr and a sharp shout. The sharp shouts build up and guitars that Tom Verlaine would be proud of start to back up her breathless vocals on the chorus. The guitars grow more unruly, everything gets a bit bolder them bang, gospel choir! It’s genius! Karen O’s pleads and prays whilst the choir crescendos, until everything gives way, letting the song end with chants of “sacrilege, sacrilege, sacrilege you say!” and a wave of soul claps. How amazing is that? So when you put the slow drudgery of Subway after that, it’s never going to sound any good. In fact, nothing can match up to Sacrilege. It’s the sort of song that stands out on a classic album. On an average album it shows everything else up.
The other big single, Mosquito, follows on from Subway. Mosquito is the reminder that YYYs were the band that made Fever to Tell. Guitars crash, vocals hiss, there’s only about six different words. It’s probably amazing live when everything can be ramped up another notch but coming out of your headphones or speakers, there’s just something missing. And then begins 13 minutes of fuck all.
That said, there is a fair amount of good music on Mosquito. Area 52 begins a late surge, an abrasive with a slight mechanical sound. The brash first 15 seconds give you an idea of what’s to come, there’s an alarm and an abrasive backing that doesn’t stop until you reach Buried Alive.
Amazingly, there’s an appearance from everyone’s favourite green skinned, time-travelling cannibal, Dr Octagon. Supposedly he’s dead but since the track he appears on is titled Buried Alive the lore that surrounds Kool Keith’s madcap creation remains unbroken. Dr. Octagon’s appearance won’t go into the rap/rock crossover hall of fame, he does what he did on Dr. Octagonecologyst by making meaningless words mix to create a phonetic slice of joy, there’s no street poetry or thought provoking stuff. It’s words that sound similar that fit together in quite a nice way. There’s a bit of chemistry between Karen O and Dr. Octagon which makes it far better than Chuck D’s crap appearance on Sonic Youth’s Kool Thing, but it’s not sitting alongside Run DMC and Aerosmith. What’s great about Buried Alive is that it breaks up the, by then, pretty samey sound that was beginning to bog the album down.
Always does the same, entirely leaving the industrial guitars to reach a synth driven, dream like sound. This is the point of the album when fans of It’s Blitz can start to tune back in as the next two tracks keep this change up. Despair is the better of the two, it makes you remember what made It’s Blitz great and is the exact song that everyone wanted them to make. On each album, YYYs tend to make at least one tuneful tender track that tells us all the album is about to end and this time around it’s Despair. It’s the proof that YYYs have it in them to make an album so good that it unites all of us indiekids. There is a shred of hope. Wedding Song is another one that makes it abundantly clear that they’re capable of writing songs that are more than three sentences repeated over and over again (it’s actually pretty funny looking at lyric sheets for Mosquito, on average there are four lines, all of which have a x4 after them). So I guess we’re left with a little bit of hope.25 April, 2013 - 15:09 — James McKenna