Hell Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs

Jason Singer
Mar 23, 2010

 

It’s Blitz! by Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs: The Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs have always defied easy categorization. In 2003, they released “Fever To Tell,” a wild-eyed and brilliant debut album that led critics to quickly annoint them The Next Great Rock Band.

Bob Dylan loved them. Jack White praised them. And hipsters, critics and Hollywood stars drooled over lead singer Karen O, a sexy and charismatic frontwoman whose ability to switch between hair-raising screams and tuneful melodies reminded music lovers of a modern-day Roger Daltrey.

What wasn’t to like about them? The Yeah Yeah Yeahs played thunderous, skeletal rock that reminded us why we fell in love with drums and guitars in the first place.

But something happened on the way to rock-and-roll superstardom: The band released its second album, 2006’s “Show Your Bones.

“Show Your Bones” was much more subdued and less spontaneous than its predecessor, and suddenly The Next Great Rock Band was neither great nor a rock band.

Sure it had two of the year’s best songs — “Cheated Hearts” and “Gold Lion” — but critics opted to look past those successes and bemoan the loss of a promising young group.

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs died, they said, and a less edgy, less interesting band emerged.

Well I’ve got good news: The Yeah Yeah Yeahs have returned to greatness, even if it’s not what you’d expect.

“It’s Blitz!,” their new album released Tuesday, won’t remind people of “Fever To Tell.” It doesn’t have the thunderous rock anthems of “Fever,” or the same raw power.

In fact, “It’s Blitz!” isn’t even a rock-and-roll record. It’s a electro-rock record with dance beats, something much closer to New Order than The Ramones.

But don’t say “No, No, No” to the Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs’ latest incarnation, even if you loved “Fever.” It’s different, for sure, but the result is the same.

No, it doesn’t have Brian Chase’s primal drums driving the music like on “Fever,” but it has pounding synth lines providing similar energy.

It also doesn’t have the band’s signature climactic dueling guitars like from that first album, but a building cacophony of electro-sounds provide a similar effect on “It’s Blitz!”

And Karen O is still around, shouting, signing and acting all rock-starry.

I’ll be honest: If you’re a rock-and-roll purist, this may not be for you. But if you’re willing to venture out a little — onto the ledge and onto the dance floor — “It’s Blitz!” is a welcomed resurrection for a band that supposedly died long ago.

Watch the video for the album’s lead single, “Zero.”

Comments

MrSandusky

Sorry, but the song is "Gold Lion"...not that I am one for details.

Brain Chase went to Oberlin, and I think one of the other members might have as well. Oberlin also produced Liz Phair.

More to the point, it floors me that people are let down when a band makes an album that does not sound like the album they put out before.

jasonsinger

You are correct, Mr. Sandusky: "Gold Lion" is the name of the song; thanks for keeping me accurate. I'm out of town, but I'll change it when I return Monday.

I agree with you. I think it's silly when people get upset that a band makes an album that doesn't sound like their previous album. Bands, like all things, evolve. It's a Catch 22 for musicians: If they don't change, critics may say they've run out of ideas and become stale. If they do change, people act surprised and often complain. It's tough to please everyone...

MrSandusky

I forgot one thing:

Ever notice that the drummer for the Yeah, Yeah, Yeah's looks like a live version of Milhouse from the Simpsons? Watch the "Gold Lion" video and you will see what I mean.