Review: Yeah Yeah Yeahs – It’s Blitz!

I’ve always enjoyed Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and particularly singer Karen O, the dangerous, charismatic, and let’s be honest, utterly hot lead singer, but they’ve outdone themselves with their new album, It’s Blitz! To anyone who is familiar with the band to hear a record so blatantly electronic is almost jarring at first listen and true enough, there has been a great deal of debate over the band’s choice of direction for this album, especially among diehard fans (which=I can’t help but find it interesting being on this side of one of these debates considering how frequently electronic bands turn their back on the sound that defined them, and how distressing this can sometimes be; it’s odd to have a band that is not known for electro dabbling to cross over to the land of the synths). But after one gets over the fact that the sound is quite different they realize that the songwriting and spirit that truly define this band are fully intact, it becomes easier to let go and go along for the ride.

First off, to those wondering, no it’s not a casual walk on the synth side, most of the album is full-bore electronic, dipping deeply into the well of early 80’s synth pop sounds. Second, yes the album still has serious balls and Karen O has never been in better voice. Lead single “Zero” is catchy as nothing the band have ever released has been. It works as a song to dance to, or one to let yourself sink emotionally deeply into. It’s early in the year but it’s not a stretch to suggest the song will be remembered as among the best singles of 2009. While they still rock as ever before, on songs like the dirgy “Skeletons”, Karen O, particularly, goes to a pretty place that just a year ago would have felt foreign and somehow wrong. While the disco tinge is everywhere on It’s Blitz!, they still bring out a sound that traditional fans will be able to well-remember and embrace on songs like “Dull Life” or “Shame and Fortune”, where guitarist Nick Zinner seems liberated by the sonic shift and sounds more inspired and fluid than he ever has. Also worthy of note, “Runaway”, all synthy swirls, otherwordly guitar and symphonic bombast, plus a gorgeous vocal from Karen O that will make you absolutely fall in love with her. (Plus, after enduring god-awful cover art announcements for new albums previously discussed here, from everyone from Depeche Mode, to Pet Shop Boys to Client, to see artwork this awesome makes the heart leap.)

This is a breathtaking work that builds on all the best the band is and adds a soundscape that only stretches the boundaries of what YYY have been previously capable of. Already a contender for best of the year…

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