Ten years after their jugular-grabbing debut Fever To Tell, New York alt-rockers Yeah Yeah Yeahs have carved out a somewhat helter skelter career for themselves. Despite having moments of glory, they’ve never really capitalized on the slanted potential they first showed in 2003. That is, until now, with Mosquito. Three years since their last so-so record, Karen O, Nick Zinner and Brian Chase have regrouped, recharged their batteries and returned with the kind of adventurous and feverish sound many have been waiting to hear for far too long.
Granted, if you look at the album cover (yeah…that thing!) whilst listening to the goofy midway track “Area 52,” you might think that the trio have gone way off the deep end. But these are just rough edges to what is hands down some of their best work to date. Kicking off the album with the direct, empowering and downright awesome single “Sacrilege” might seem like a gutsy move to make, but if it’s a statement of confidence. It’s as if they’re purposely declaring, “Yeah, we know this is good, but we have so much more to come.”
Outside of “Sacrilege” and that gospel choir, a few of the many musical highlights on Mosquito include a sensational cameo from Dr. Octagon, tribal percussion spliced with energetic punk guitar power and dub bass lines filtered through an echo chamber prism. All this and much more is topped off with Karen O’s magnetic presence being turned up a few notches, too. Although she certainly brings a frenzied energy to the record, she also shows off her cool demeanor in style. If that wasn’t enough, she also rivals the simple but heartbreaking sentiment of “Maps” with Mosquito’s closing track “Wedding Song.” Not only does the latter bring yet another dimension to the album, but it oozes a truly authentic melancholic beauty, so much so that I cant promise you wont be an emotional wreck by the end of it.
For me, what really resonates with this record is that although the group tap into a realm of new and interesting ideas, their energy is unbridled and their chemistry is clicking on all cylinders. It’s weird, it’s bold, it’s experimental and it’s broad. Yet perhaps with the exception of the aforementioned alien-centric “Area 52,” Mosquito is a full-on art rock experience that isn’t zany, pompous or odd for the sake of being odd. It’s odd in a genuine, authentic, enlightening, fun and occasionally touching manner. There’s much more than method behind the madness — there are two lungs full of fresh air. After pulling me firmly back onside with this, I for one cant wait to hear what comes from the band’s next creative exhalation.