“Oh despair, you were there through my wasted days / You’re there through my wasted nights / You’re there through my wasted years / You’re there through my wasted life.” Those words outline the percussive swell and tremolo whirrs that represent the most triumphant moment on Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ fourth LP Mosquito in “Despair”. This odd irony prevails as the infamous NYC power-trio move into the headliner/veteran role, a far cry from the sweaty, city bar room tussles that has always endured as a paramount element of their history and inspired sound. How do you move ceaselessly onward and upwards without losing that sense of intimacy?
“It’s Blitz was so clean and cold in a way,” Karen O said an interview with The Guardian. “It was precise and electronic. I personally wanted to something a bit more quirky, a bit more sexual, a bit more visceral.”
Wrapping the mind around Mosquito is met with a series of contradictions and confusion with the point of view of hunting, being the hunted, and wanting to be abducted shifting constantly. There’s an acute self-awareness and primal attitude constantly at the fore of Mosquito‘s overall aesthetic to varying degrees of released nervous tension and success. Standouts like “Slave” and “Under The Earth” bounce and pop with the former shooting into the anthemic and the latter relishing in ethereal, poetic waters. Rarely does a verse go unrepeated lending Karen O’s croons, howls, and yelps a indelible, tribal quality of boundless energy and conflicted emotion.
The lowest points of the record come when the Yeah Yeah Yeahs are at their most frenetic, which used to be an exciting and seemingly evolving part of their approach. Straightforward narratives and the most classic Yeah Yeah Yeahs style guitar riffs from Nick Zinner come from the title track and the Iggy Pop-raw power snarl of “Area 52″, a strange mid-album departure set up by the Crystal Castles’ tinged “These Paths”.
Amid the sprawl of sonic exploration and experimentation comes some of most tender and inspired moments of Karen O’s takes with her signature outlet. Since It’s Blitz Ms. O became a Mrs. and staged her first “”psycho-opera” in Stop The Virgens. In pinpointing the evolution of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and their most vocal member, one shouldn’t have to look too much further beyond playing their breakthrough EP and the the tracks that close their latest in “Always”, “Despair”, and “Wedding Song”.
As the band matures in age obviously so does the subject matter. Taking the place of lamenting dilettante train station exhibitionists is actual, deep personal connections and love letters. This may be the most visceral change evident apart from previous endeavors in Mosquito, whereas that term evokes thoughts of brash guitars and bombastic gospel choirs sampled on lead single “Sacrilege”.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs have taken stock of their collective experiences, taken a deep breath, and spilled out their full, technicolor guts. Sift through the maelstrom, and you’ll find moments of glory and beauty along with chaos and confusion. Not a sharp turn in any particular direction, but one eventually has to chose a path at a fork in the road.