Yeah Yeah Yeahs first came into our lives in 2001 with their self-titled EP but it was in 2003 that their first album and first in a series of signature albums, Fever To Tell, came into being. It bore 'Maps'. If you don't have 'Maps' in your life, please improve it immediately and listen to it now. Ten years later, it sounds as riveting as it did then. Karen O screeched her way into our hearts, and without having anything further to prove, the New York trio kept on giving.
When they weren't releasing an album, they'd release an EP to whet our whistles until the big release and there was never disappointment. In 2006, Yeah Yeah Yeahs surprised us all by turning Karen into a songbird on Show Your Bones. They tuned down the punk dial slightly and upped the pop and thus began the chameleon-styling of Karen O which makes her one of the greatest frontpeople of our time. She is ferocious, wild and so very likable. 2009's It's Blitz! drew heavy Blondie comparisons for the sheer disco-fever it propelled. If you want a mere sample of this, check out the Teen Wolf/Michael Jackson 'Thriller'-inspired video for 'Heads Will Roll' directed by Richard Ayoade (Moss from The IT Crowd).
And now there's Mosquito. There is no immediate gut reaction to the latest album from Yeah Yeah Yeahs and that is worrying. Over the last decade, they high-kicked you right in the face with something so impulsivley right that listening to Mosquito in its entirety and not getting goosebumps is a problem.
The first single, 'Sacrilege', indicated another change in sound with gospel choirs thrown into the mix. Mosquito is a much quieter affair than we are used to. The highlights are songs the experiment with the bizarre. The frenetic title track, 'Mosquito', has Miss O hissing like a bloodsucker. 'Slave' doesn't slither quite as sexily as 2008's 'Dragon Queen' but it definitely raises some blood pressures. The James Murphy-produced track 'Buried Alive' thuds in a good way and the guest chorus Dr. Octagon, a fictional character created by rapper Kool Keith, clicks in perfectly like K'Nex. 'Wedding Song' is rumoured to be the follow up to their now legendary love song, 'Maps' and seen as Karen O performed this at her wedding to Barney Clay, it provides the album with more of a backstory.
This is certainly not one of Yeah Yeah Yeahs' best albums. It is unfair to call it their worst because there are worse depths that a band of their vintage could fall to. If we can forgive them for the worst album cover of 2013, we can forgive them for releasing an album that doesn't beat to their usual, brilliant pace.
Review by Louise Bruton