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"It's Blitz"

Yeah Yeah Yeahs – It's Blitz
16 April 2009, 13:00 Written by Lauren Down

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs we knew and loved shot out of New York's art-rock scene circa 2001 in a blur of fishnet tights and smeared lipstick. Karen O and company just oozed "coolness" and the bands confrontational sound seemed to follow in the footsteps of countless riot grrl acts before them in its defiant anger. Now skip forward to 2009, past the anthemic acoustic guitars of Show Your Bones, to the bands 3rd major album, It's Blitz. A far cry from the yelping vocals, scraping guitars and primal energy of Fever To Tell, It's Blitz has taken a nose-dive into glossy and commercially orientated synth led disco-pop.

That's not to say the band have entirely lost sight of its raw past, but they're certainly aware that their dramatic musical shift is going to be hard for many to swallow.Album opener 'Zero' retains that same ecstatic, wired thrill that made the Yeah Yeah Yeahs what they are. The pulsating rhythm and synth hook build to an epically compelling dance floor anthem that is as vibrant and as energetic as the image of the smashed egg of the record's sleeve. Yet, somehow, the overpowering and rushing urgency of 'Zero' doesn't feel quite at home without the backdrop of a sweaty nightclub and dizzying strobe lights. 'Zero' initially seems to dominate this album, in the same way 'Gold Lion' did with Show Your Bones and 'Date with the Night' did with Fever To Tell. But, true to their form, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs once again prove they are masters of the slow burn.

Upon delving below the surface of this album, it slowly begins to reveals its' split personality. It almost seems futile to argue with the rallying cry of 'Heads Will Role' as O yells, "Off with your head, dance til you're dead" to an infectious rhythm. Whilst tracks like 'Soft Shock' and album highlight 'Hysteric' are delicate, introspective ballads that comes closer to the raw romanticism of 2004's hit 'Maps.' And whilst the refrain "You suddenly complete me" could easily fall into cliché, O's subtle vocals project the blunt shock of finding oneself unexpectedly in love.The beautifully gentle and honest piano keys and echoing guitar strums of 'Hysterics' is set in contrast to the strangely cold polyrhythms of 'Dragon Queen' in which O and TV On The Radio's Tunde Adebimpe drag us, (admittedly somewhat kicking and screaming) back into the world of neon disco lights. Meanwhile 'Dull Life' recalls the bands more sensational days, as Nick Zinner's Fender rocks back into frame. Seemingly forgotten on this album in favour of synthesisers and a cleaner sound, Zinner's trademark circular riffs provide the dirty, driving force behind some much-needed rawness.

It's Blitz is certainly a bold new disco twist on the Yeah Yeah Yeahs own particular brand of angular art house rock. And whilst, as a band, it is important to experiment and avoid stagnation, the pulsating disco pop that now takes centre stage often falls a little flat as the Yeah Yeah Yeahs seem to have sacrificed the vitality and raw emotion that once drove their sound. Although, to be fair, the more I listen, the more I am compelled by the pulsating rhythms and O's effortlessly smooth vocals to embrace their new direction.

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