Between performances at both weekends of 2013’s Coachella music festival, Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ long-anticipated fourth album, Mosquito, was not-so-quietly released. Earlier in February, the band released a teaser of the new album in the form of its lead single, “Sacrilege,” an undeniably catchy yet intense release that opens with little more than frontwoman Karen O’s sultry vocals before breaking out the full band and a gospel choir. Needless to say, my interest was piqued.
Coming four years after their enormously successful It’s Blitz!, Mosquito is yet another evolution in Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ catalog. The ridiculously dancey vibe established in It’s Blitz! is still present on many tracks, especially “Area 52,” but along with it are poignant whiffs of experimentalism (this is most prominently paraded in “These Paths”).
Yeah Yeah Yeahs also dabble in punk more for this record, demonstrated by their newly released single “Mosquito,” while “Buried Alive” unexpectedly features rapping from Dr. Octagon. Still, my favorite moment on the record comes during its second track, the beautifully stripped down “Subway.” Here Yeah Yeah Yeahs bare their softer side with an uncharacteristically restrained Karen O singing over the sound of a train gliding on its tracks. The song is hauntingly lovely, and its stark simplicity sounds incredible live.
Mosquito doesn’t include any tracks that are definite misses, but I do think the wide range of genres presented makes the album seem disjointed at times. This is not a major criticism, but it does mean that I’m more likely to pick and choose my favorite tracks when playing the album, and consequently, this release won’t stick out as prominently in my mind years down the road when I’m feeling contemplative.
Still, the critical acclaim Mosquito has already garnered is undoubtedly well-deserved. Yeah Yeah Yeahs have a knack for pushing their own boundaries, and I certainly must commend them for releasing something with this much range. Just as its predecessor received some flack for being a lofty deviation from 2006’s Show Your Bones, Mosquito is sure to have its fair share of detractors, but those with an open mind and an ache to hear something new will be delighted with this album.
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