It’s Blitz!, the new album from New York City favorites the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, could’ve easily been named It’s Glitz! Utilizing a new stylistic approach, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs lavish in glossy production, and frequently ditch guitar and drums for synthesizers and drum machines on their third full-length.
Those who prefer the dance rock of Fever to Tell, the band’s debut, may embrace the way It’s Blitz! returns to the party spirit. Those who favor the raw, emotional aspect of Show Your Bones, their sophomore effort, may find It’s Blitz a little shallow in comparison. And those who have yet to really listen to the band may find the pop accessibility of It’s Blitz! a great place to start.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs, “Zero” (download)
“Zero,” the opening track and single, ponders the desire for ascension. Front-woman Karen O. finds anxiety in climbing a “ladder to the sun,” nagging, “Can you climb higher?” before deciding to cut lose over a vibrato dance beat coupled with electronic scraping and buzzing. “You’re zero / What’s your name? / No one’s gonna ask you,” could be seen as an insult and but also as consolation, that wherever one’s status may be, when you “get your leather on,” the dance floor is the great equalizer. “Heads Will Roll” finds a similar intersection of authority and the party life, switching between declarations of, “Off with your head / Dance till you’re dead!”
That constant energy high can get exhausting, though, and It’s Blitz! does have a tender moment or two. The fear of being hurt comes through on “Soft Shock,” with each musical component possibly taking a role – a gentle, light melody as the worried lover, an angular, hollow melody that jumps around, in and out as the other, the incessant, chugging beat as their chemistry. Singing the line almost as though she’s out of breath, “What’s the time / what’s the day / gonna leave me,” is part question, part intuition. “Hysteric,” easily the biggest stand-out on It’s Blitz! could narrate a couple that gets back together, “The cinders, the cinders / they light the path / and these strange steps / take us back, take us back.” Over a series of lingering notes and a rattling beat, Karen O. serenades, “You suddenly complete me.”
After the emotional purging of Show Your Bones, it’s likely that Karen O. was ready to party herself senseless, making It’s Blitz! feel like the musical equivalent of the rebound period after a bad break-up: Trying to focus on who looks best on the dance floor, but occasionally looking inward, no matter how much you resist.