The Yeah Yeah Yeahs have released their new album after a 4-year hiatus and provoked inevitable rustling of their (not so patient) hibernating fans. We were teased with controversial album artwork, of course, and the hype grew as it was dubbed the worst album cover of the year. As if that wasn’t a bold enough backdrop for the bands re-entry into our lives, they roped in the stunning Lily Cole for their debut video. The weirdly wonderful superstar model featured in the witch-hunt style video can be seen seducing men left right and centre in the name of their hooky single, ‘Sacrilege’.
So, with a sufficient buzz surrounding them, ‘Mosquito’ has been released into our world, and is a window into the fabulously weirder world of Karen O.
All the key components are still there. The echoing power and raw emotion of Karen’s wailing vocals, which are so instantly recognisable to The Yeah Yeah Yeahs still remain. After 4 years away however, it is possible that the band have gone slightly off kilter. The title song, ‘Mosquito’, is bizarre and slightly obnoxious. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs never shy away from getting in your face with their music but this one doesn’t really work. It sits awkwardly next to the masterful beauty of ‘Subway’ and ‘Under the Earth’. Both these songs, on the other hand, are exquisite examples of the craft that the threesome has perfected over the years.
Then comes another strange one. ‘Buried Alive’ featuring American rapper, Dr Octagon (that’s right, there is a rap) is the definite outsider of the album. It’s difficult to comprehend why they thought a rap in the middle of this album would work. It hits you like a tonne of ugly hip-hop bricks and you would be forgiven for switching off as soon as it kicks in.
It’s difficult for such a well-established band to make a comeback after disappearing from the scene for so long, and their efforts to differentiate from older albums should be applauded. However, the problem comes when their attempts at standout tracks seem out of place and, simply, nonsensical.
We can be thankful for the efforts put into the evolution of their signature style and enjoy this album. With a healthy utilisation of the skip button for a rare couple of tracks, ‘Mosquito’ certainly gives a sense of maturity from The Yeah Yeah Yeahs. For all the nostalgic fans out there, it brings back great memories of their earlier work, but in a more polished way.
Despite the album artwork, this is most definitely not the worst album of the year, and I would recommend a listen.
By Sylvie Metcalfe