CD Review of It's Blitz! by The Yeah Yeah Yeahs
The Yeah Yeah Yeahs: It's Blitz!
Recommended if you like
Talking Heads, Blondie,
TV on the Radio
Label
Interscope
The Yeah Yeah Yeahs:
It's Blitz!

Reviewed by James B. Eldred

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upposedly, the recording sessions for The Yeah Yeah Yeahs' second album, Show Your Bones, were so trying for the band that they almost broke up. It’s strange, then, that an album borne of so much emotional strife ended up being so boring and utterly forgettable – a classic sophomore slump, to be sure. The band makes a triumphant return with the shocking, brilliant It's Blitz!, a record that isn't a return to form for the band, but the creation of a new form entirely.

While the group has always dabbled in electronic sounds and synthesizers in the past, It's Blitz! finds the bend embracing them wholeheartedly, abandoning their abrasive garage roots for the disco dance floor via booty-shaking beats and groovalicious bass lines. And while that may sound disastrous, it's actually a (damn) good thing.

The level of disco varies from track to track; in fact, the album eases you in at first with the opening "Zero," as a killer riff serves as camouflage for the programmed beats in the background. But after that, all bets are off, as the band unabashedly throws the funky beats to the forefront on "Heads Will Roll." And if their intentions weren't already clear enough, they become crystal clear as Karen O. demands that you "dance till you’re dead" before trading her trademark scream for a sultry whisper in an enigmatic chorus of "You can last / Take the past / Shut your eyes / Realize."

One of the best combinations of disco and rock comes on "Dull Life," which switches between a pure disco beat and riff-driven chorus that's just as rocking and punk as anything on Fever to Tell. Fleeting resemblances to the band's "classic" sound also pop up during "Shame and Fortune," the only pure rock song on the entire album. But it's also the weakest song on the album, because once you get a taste of those sweet disco beats, it's hard to let them go. Proof of that can be found in the beyond-awesomely-titled "Dragon Queen," which pretty much strips away all pretense for rock for a straight-up disco track that would make the Scissor Sisters scream with envy.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs

The only non-dance numbers on the album that really work are the ballads. The minimalist "Runaway" sounds like a sequel to the group's mega-hit "Maps": "Run, run, run away / Lost, lost, lost my mind / Want you to stay / Want you to be my prize," pines Karen as a piano putters single notes behind her. And while "Runaway" sounds like a sequel to "Maps," many have already proclaimed "Hysteric" as its mirror-image response. Lush and full of life instead of barren and raw, it creates the same feeling of honesty and emotional power that "Maps" did, only instead focusing on the positive feelings of love. Over dissonant guitar riffs and a wave of echo effects, Karen O. proclaims, "You suddenly complete me," melts hearts, and creates the first post-punk wedding dance song in the process.

This isn't the Yeah Yeah Yeahs mellowing out (that was Show Your Bones), this is them channeling their energy in a new direction. Will it alienate a few fans? Probably. But that just leaves more room on the dance floor for the ones who stay.

And that cover is freaking awesome.

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