Yeah Yeah Yeahs – It’s Blitz!
Release Date - Mar 9th, 2009
Label – Interscope
When reviewing an album that is not a debut, I find it nearly impossible to stray away from comparing the current release to past works. In 2003, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs released one of the most impressive debuts of the decade with the pyretic and down right aggressive “Fever to Tell”. Frontwoman Karen O was the essence of cool, showing the “I don’t give a shit” rock attitude that would make Patti Smith very proud. The album shook the foundations of the rising synth driven indie pop movement and showed that there was still a place for jagged guitars and proved that screamo female lyrics could be nothing short of beautiful.
We catch up with the band six years later, a befitting follow up LP, “Show Your Bones” and a throw away EP, “Is Is” under their belts and a new album being released into the public. The fans became giddy with the unveiling of the striking title, “It’s Blitz” and drooled when they saw the eye candy album cover of a hand dramatically breaking an egg. It was all perfect, but then came the actual music. The first two tracks are as poppy as the band could possibly get and are convenient enough to be the first two singles released. “Zero” and “Heads Will Roll” are nice, but basically equate to the missionary position, while I find myself wanting to reconnect with the mind-blowing sex that was every track on “Fever To Tell”. Listening to the first two tracks, it becomes very apparent that the guitar has found a new friend in the synth. The very music that the Yeah Yeah Yeahs challanged in ’03 is what they decided to bring to the table for the new album. It’s a horrible move that leaves a lot of their early fans wondering why the change was necessary.
With this said, these two tracks are really the only interesting pieces on the whole album. Tracks three through ten sludge around, mopping transition to transition, while my ears wish to grow eyelids to gently close. Oh, Zach is getting a little dramatic again, you might be saying, but really, when I spin this album I really can’t find any reasoning for the existence of these eight songs. These tracks are the equivalent of a band’s sound going into the witness protection program…where are the Yeah Yeah Yeahs??? One of my favorite responses to this album is a friend saying, “I know that it’s a woman lead singer, but ‘Fever To Tell’ had balls…where are the balls on this album?” While I think it can be articulated better, the sentiment rings extremely true. Where is the risk? The intensity? The passion? The balls?
It’s always hard to write a review like this for two reasons. I really love the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and was looking forward to this album. Also, most critics and fans, for the life of me I don’t know why, love this album. For this reviewer, everything that made the band extremely special in the first place is absent on this record. I’ll chalk it up to the band wanting to try something new, but what worries me the most is that if people accept this watered down sound, we may never get the true Yeah Yeah Yeahs back. That to me is the most depressing part of this failure of an album.