It’s Blitz! By Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Interscope Records, 2009
In the often fickle music industry fans can be very adamant about how their favorite artist should sound. For example, upon the release of Radiohead’s 2000 masterpiece Kid A it was clear that fan acceptance was divided. Fans of their grand, guitar-based sound were dissatisfied by its minimalist electronic experimentation. The rest of us appreciate the transformation and consider it a bold standout in the band’s discography. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ third studio album, It’s Blitz!, may not cause such an extravagant rift in the alternative rock trio’s fan base, but it could very well cause some tension. It’s Blitz! finds the band finding new methods of expression that cannot be found on their previous albums.
Listening through the band’s brief discography, one can hear growth between their debut, Fever to Tell, and their second record, Show Your Bones. The former is a completely erratic garage rock stomp. The latter while still holding on some of these characteristics, is largely centered on acoustic guitars and pop accessibility. This record pushes further away from their debut. These tracks are doused shimmering synthesizers and post-punk guitars. Many of these songs feel take on an almost dreamlike quality, while others are bold, dance floor epics. Tracks like “Dull Life” and “Heads Will Roll” combine the group’s new fondness for dreary synth with the biting energy that fans will find familiar. These changes are fresh, and are almost perfectly executed.
Another aspect of the record is Karen O’s commanding performance as the band’s dynamic lead vocalist. Her vocals fail to get lost in the wave of keyboards and guitar like one could anticipate. Instead, she stands right out in her Chrissie Hynde-like dominance. On slow-motion epic “Skeletons” she delivers a very subdued and fragile performance. This is in contrast to “Zero” in which she pants with confidence. Lyrically, Karen is never specific, but rather leaves listeners to fill in the gaps. She does, however, let broader ideas flourish. “Flow sweetly, hang heavy/You suddenly complete me” she swoons on the vulnerably romantic “Hysteric”. Karen focuses less on aggression than ever before, which a clear representation of her growth as a lyricist.
It’s Blitz! finds proper balance between danceable rhythms and emotional beauty. Sonically, it lacks the raw spirit of their previous material. This may turn off older fans. Many fans will certainly understand that Karen’s sentiment and the band’s musical skill has not been lost in this new setting. It’s Blitz! displays a positive confidence and pushes the further development of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ sound.
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