Yeah Yeah Yeahs: Mosquito
10 years into their career, Yeah Yeah Yeahs have the unique position of being cult favourites and in constant flirtation with the mainstream. Coming onto the scene like a horny neon tiger in 2003 with their debut album Fever to Tell, no-one would have bet on these three-singer Karen O, guitarist Nick Zinner and drummer Brian Chase- still making music in 2013. The essence of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs is their ability to surprise each time they come back for more. Perfectly encapsulated in their subsequent albums Show Your Bones, an album that played like an angry and emotionally crestfallen hangover to Fever to Tell’s party of the dammed. Then came It’s Blitz, a monumental electro guitar beast that had some of the bands greatest anthems on it: Zero, Heads will Roll and Runaway. Each album showcased an emotional and musical maturity from the previous release so while the band greatest trick is to surprise then you may be disappointed to find that with Mosquito comes with a complete lack of surprise.
While it is by no means a bad album, indeed it outdoes both of the other New York scene survivors The Strokes and Interpol’s albums by quite a stretch, there is a distinct feeling of a band jumping back and forth from each side of the fence. There is a lot of progression here, particularly in the form of lead single Sacrilege, in which the bands’ typical rhythmic and melodic sucker punch is given a leg up from a choir, a choice that comes all the way from left field. There’s proof of further progression in the beautifully haunting Subway which slows the momentum right down which shows a confidence in the bands powers as it’s only the second song on the album. Karen O and Co have an in-depth knowledge of when and how to push their music forward making Mosquito, hopefully, a transitional album. Risky electro songs These Paths, which out does every track on Its Blitz with its studio trickery and the layered overlapping outro which may split some fans but in my opinion it’s one of the albums strongest tracks.
Now onto the less risky songs: the title track, Slave, Area 52 and Always. Slave is without a doubt the best song on the album, this is the band firmly within their comfort zone and trashing the place. There is something inherently vicious about the song that recounts an overly dependent love affair. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, since their debut, have had a particular song on each subsequent album that screams at the listener YOU WANTED SEX? WELL HERE YOU GO, AND Slave is undoubtedly this song.
The problem is that, apart from Slave, the band have played it far too safe with the remainder of the albums less stylish track. The title track and Area 52 sound like bad B-sides that way like an anchor on the rest of the album. Always, while being a sweet song feels unfinished and can best be described as cute but dim. While these songs stop the album from being on par with their first three, the Yeah Yeahs still treat us to a magnificent finish with the uplifting Despair (ironic, I know) and the utterly captivating Wedding Song.
So while this is not the band’s best album- in fact it may be their worst- that alone says a lot to the combined quality of their career. It seems like a stepping stone into new creative territory. Here’s hoping for another ten years.
By Kevin Boyle