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Saturday, August 10, 2013

Album Review of the Week: Yeahs Yeah Yeahs - "Mosquito"

(Editor's note: Away from home at the moment so writing this on iPad - please excuse formatting errors and other inconsistencies)

Welcome back to the second edition of my weekly album reviews. None of this week's releases intrigued me enough to spur an article about it, so instead I take a look back at one of 2013's earlier releases, "Mosquito" by Yeah Yeah Yeahs. This past April the popular New York-based trio added their latest output to an already bountiful list of significant album releases in 2013, joining the likes of The National, Queens of the Stone Age, Vampire Weekend, and more. Among the many highly-anticipated new records of 2013 so far, I found "Mosquito" to be the most disappointing of the bunch. Don't get me wrong, I still enjoy the album, and I recognize that it had many strong points. The highest point of the record is opening track and lead single "Sacrilege," a feisty piece complete with an evangelical choir and tricky drum pattern. Songs like "Buried Alive," featuring a verse from versatile rapper Dr. Octagon, and the title track also ride excellent grooves throughout, and "Despair" is downright uplifting despite its title.

But what this album has in craft it loses in attitude. This record substantially lacks the punk attitudes that made their celebrated debut "Fever to Tell" so beloved. While there is certainly experimentation within the album, the record as a whole feels very tame and safe. Although "Subway" takes unique approach to sampling by using a recording if a subway car as the constant beat, the song lacks any kind of punch, something you can't really say about many other Yeah Yeah Yeahs tunes from past releases. Nothing on the record sounds nearly as rebellious as "Art Star" or "Date with the Night," the kind of music that made them stars. In addition, the slower tracks don't even hold a candle to other ballads like the famously sincere "Maps," and instead seem to fall flat. Songs like "Under the Earth," "Slave," and "These Paths" feel like they go on forever without getting anywhere interesting. Having those three in a row right in the middle of the track list mucks up the flow of the album entirely. Other tracks, like "Area 52" and "Always," are repetitive and outright annoying. The album closer, "Wedding Song," seems sincere enough, and remains more interesting throughout than any if the other "ballads" can claim to. Still, a few tracks are noteworthy, and the album has already spawned two of the best music videos in recent memory in "Sacrilege" and "Despair." 

I have no doubt that the Yeah Yeah Yeahs are still capable of great things, but this record definitely feels off the mark. While it is exciting at times, it is just as often boring and includes two tracks that are hardly listenable at all. I'd consider it the weakest contribution yet, but the rest of their discography is still fantastic. Hopefully next record the YYY's can turn it around and put out a more complete record, rather than a couple of stellar singles with lots of filler in-between.

Key tracks: "Sacrilege," "Mosquito," "Buried Alive," "Despair," "Wedding Song"

Rating: 5.5/10




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