Saturday, 5 October 2013

Yeah Yeah Yeahs - It's Blitz!


I think Karen O wins most charismatic performer of the last decade. Yeah Yeah Yeahs are definitely something else and just one song on It’s Blitz! is example enough of this albums excellence, particularly after the lacklustre effort of Mosquito in 2013. One of the interesting things about It’s Blitz! that comes to mind, is the fact that although it does contain a lot of the dance and art rock elements that were so articulately featured on their first two records, it also sways in with some new features that twist up all your pre-existing notions about Karen O and company. Karen O weaved what could perhaps be the masterpiece of the New York trio’s musical endeavours. The opening track is “Zero” which is one of the more beatsy and perhaps the most well-known track from the record. It’s catchy but still maintains an amount of artistic dignity. It’s great as an opener because it sounds similar but not really that much so to Show Your Bones… A more definite comparison could be made to their first record Fever to Tell.

It’s Blitz! It is a spectacular example of what a LOT of indie bands have been trying to capture on their own records in the last few years. There’s something lacking on most of these albums and their efforts, but not at all on this one. It’s a concise and short record but it’s fantastic. The second track is “Heads Will Roll”,  a jangly dance tune but with that soft observational female indie flair that we get a lot from artists like Karen O. It’s not a spectacular track but its fun and the chorus is beyond catchy -"Dance, dance, dance till your dead."

Skeletons” comes across misty-eyed and creepy, which works well - I would add however, on the deluxe edition of this album they have acoustic versions of four tracks, “Soft Shock”, “Skeletons”, “Hysteric”, and “Little Shadow”. The acoustic version of “Skeletons” is extraordinary with a chilling charm to it, and reigns superior to the original version. The original version is great as well - just the soft buzzing and odd drummer-boy stylised drumming that floods the second half of the track all seems a bit unneeded and the acoustic version carries a certain purity that would really work here - just a thought. I adore the fifth track however, “Dull Life”. It’s very Alanis Morisette, which could annoy some pretentious Yeah Yeah Yeahs fans as a comparison, but it actually carries across really well with Karen O’s style when applied. the heavier guitar work definitely comes across as appropriate in this track as well. There’s a certain Arctic Monkeys feel to it, or perhaps The Strokes, or something more closely associable - It works whatever it is. The lyrics are a bit questionable, but then again most of Karen O’s lyrics are, that’s what makes her so overwhelmingly intriguing. Difficult to interpret, but unexplainably relatable. 

Shame and Fortune” is my least favourite track on the record. It echoes in a non-amusing way back to some of the lesser songs on Show Your Bones and Fever to Tell in an unflattering way. And there’s nothing overly noteworthy or shivering about this track. It’s more filler than anything. The best you could say is it IS Karen O so it is at least a bit freaky and unexpected. It's still better than most of the shit from Mosquito which was extremely disappointing and unoriginal. It’s Blitz! Really FEELS like a complete album. The way the songs blend and curve and work with each other guarantees the success of the album in live atmosphere and on the turntable. Its enormity is evident in that four years after its release, it was received by many as one of the greatest records of the 00s and perhaps will always be viewed as the bands magnum opus. Mosquito certainly leaves the idea of their future works being as great as Blitz troublesome and unlikely. 

Dragon Queen” is another beatsy track, it reminds me of some tracks from MGMT’s most recent records. Very present in it is that sort of crased psychedelia that we seem to have adopted as brilliance. Some interesting drumming and guitar work in here which is nice to see… As much as I appreciate Karen O’s genius; it’s nice to see the other two in the spotlight as well once and a while. Hysteric” is a spectacular single, possibly the greatest from It's Blitz! living up to the 'hit single' effect of some of their earlier works like “Maps” that Yeah Yeah Yeahs have been working hard to ensure didn’t land them one-hit-wonder status. The lyrics, the instrumentation, and Karen’s voice; everything about it is absolutely perfect and completely thought out. The chorus is so flowing and absolutely gorgeous and intricately perfect. The double-tracking is Lennon-styled and doesn’t miss a beat. And when Karen half shouts: "Hysteric! Hysterical!" at the end of each chorus section, you can almost hear the slight chuckle.

Little Shadow” is the quiet little finale, and it is exactly what a closing track should be; a sense of finality, retrospective, a good epitome of what the band stands for and a perfect conclusion. As a single, it stands on its own very well in addition to being a swell conclusion to the record. It’s lyrically an A+ as well as featuring some great drum bits and Karen’s voice is top notch as per usual. Perhaps Yeah Yeah Yeahs won’t ever escape being more than that 'Maps band' for some people, but It’s Blitz! definitely in my mind anyway, lands them in the category of bands with brilliant classic albums that are great to listen to again and again.
~Johnny 

8.8

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