Showing posts with label the yeah yeah yeahs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label the yeah yeah yeahs. Show all posts

Thursday, April 18, 2013

album review: 'mosquito' by the yeah yeah yeahs

There are some musical acts that just get absolutely no reaction out of me.

Make no mistake, it's not that I think these acts are bad - in fact, the majority of the time, I'll acknowledge that they're quite excellent, accomplishing their goals admirably and producing high quality material. But in the end, if I'm asked to remember or (god forbid) sing a song from one of these acts, I'm going to be stumped, simply because the music has refused to lodge in my brain. Once again, it's not that it's bad, it's just that this music has completely failed to register with me on any sort of level. And believe me, it gets really goddamn frustrating because I want to be passionate about musical acts that my rational instincts tell me are great bands or great singers - but for some reason, the spark just isn't there.

Now for the longest time, the act that I've predominantly associated with this problem is Radiohead. And before you jump down my throat, I'll acknowledge right now that Radiohead is a great band with a lot of cool ideas and some very, very solid albums. But when I read the legendary Pitchfork review for Kid A and see the obvious passion for the album (buried behind some extremely pretentious waffle, to be sure, but then again, this is Pitchfork), I'm frustrated because I just don't have that same level of feeling for that album. I can acknowledge it's a damn good album, but I can't get worked up about it the same way I'll care about, say, a new Ke$ha album or a new Nick Cave album or a new Eminem album or a new Backstreet Boys album. 

And don't say 'you don't get it', because that comment goes nowhere with me. For as much as I analyze music, I'm fairly certain I 'get' Radiohead's deal, and I can understand what they were trying to do. But after having listened to that album (and indeed, their entire discography) multiple times, I'm genuinely frustrated that I still can't get passionate about this band. Thom Yorke dropped a new album this year and I've heard great reviews of it, but right now, I just can't care about it because Radiohead just evokes no reaction from me. Sorry, Radiohead fans, I wish I could like your favourite band to the same degree you do, but I'm not going to be a hipster and claim to like something if it doesn't get to me in some way.

And for the longest time, I tended to include The Yeah Yeah Yeahs in the same category I included Radiohead: music that I would definitely acknowledge is good or great music, but  material that just left very little impact on me. And like with Radiohead, I could see what made The Yeah Yeah Yeahs a great act - solid guitar licks and great bass work, potent and evocative vocals from Karen O, and some cleverness and black humour in their lyrics carefully balanced with real emotion - but I just didn't care. Sure, I would admit they were a very solid act, and had more longevity than some of their indie rock contemporaries that burst on the scene in 2003-04, but at the time, I tended to dismiss them with the rest of that indie rock boom that I didn't care enough about to investigate further.

Fortunately for me, I've warmed a little more on The Yeah Yeah Yeahs in the past while, and I think I've figured out why: most of their songs felt far too short. Sure, they worked excellently in that tight controlled burst, but the songs were so brief that they never really sunk in with me. Perhaps the only song that really stuck with me off of their first album Fever To Tell was 'Maps' (okay, part of it was because of Rock Band, I'll admit that), and that's because that song took its time and built itself on an interesting and powerful sentiment. The second album Show Your Bones was a bit of a sophomore slump, imitating the guitar work of Love and Rockets without the energy, and like The Strokes before them, felt a bit like they were treading the same water they were on their debut (although I'll admit 'Phenomena' is pretty goddamn awesome). 

Thankfully, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs managed tor recover with It's Blitz!, which managed to both innovate and maintain the elements that made The Yeah Yeah Yeahs a solid act. This album was the one that began to win me over, mostly because it felt like the band was expanding their sound and doing it in smart, intriguing ways. More importantly, it felt like they were giving their songs more of a chance to breathe and develop some texture to augment their sharp, minimalist lyrics. 

So when I heard they were releasing a new album, I was intrigued by what new innovations were going to erupt out of the woodwork. What could I expect from The Yeah Yeah Yeahs after It's Blitz!? Would it be that last saving grace before I have to suffer through's latest abomination in a couple of days?