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I was never really a fan of YYY, I mean I knew the odd song I liked such as Gold Lion or Pin, but other than that I just knew them as completely crazy, with mental dress sense (Karen O really does have strange clothes). They are also part of the 'new york post-punk scene' along with other band I like, like the strokes and we are scientists, plus the fact that Its Blitz was produced by TV on The Radio's Dave Sitek, who I personally think is a genius.
When Its Blitz was released, I already knew Zero, but I also read in NME magazine 'But where have the guitars gone!?' This interested me, as I know that YYY are well known for Nick Zinner and his very distinctive guitar sounds.
I much prefer It Blitz to earlier albums, in fact I think YYY's have got better and better every album. I know that their new sound is a lot more Discoey and Dancefloor-esque, and the use of synths was very 'in' when the album was released, but I find it works to their advantage. So the guitars have gone, but you can still tell Nick Zinner is involved.
Although there's a lot more synth, this doesn't mean YYY's pack any less of a punch, in fact practically every song on the album is energetic, fun and fast paced, with the exception of Skeletons, but this doesn't matter as it's such a beautiful song, and is much like a break from all the craziness of the album.
I would reccomend this album, if you liked earlier albums, or even if you didn't.
This album is a step in the right direction for the artsy band. Promising to ditch their guitars for synthesizers, the band half follow through on this promise, with the first half of the album certainly more electro than previous attempts.
Kicking off the album is Zero, a sublimely recorded song, with very clean production. this is true of the album as a whole, and offers a certain crispness to proceedings, but gone are the days of previous albums where there was a lot of raw energy just bundling around.
With this album, much of the rawness comes with Karen O's unique singing voice. She is clearly passionate about the music and really sings every word like she means it. Past the half way mark we are treated to a much more stripped back set of songs, especially on the deluxe versions where you get 5 acoustic tracks. Skeletons is the pick of the bunch and one of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard. Karen O shows a side to her voice, very tender, very sorrowful. Even on the album version this comes across, and on the main version you hear bagpipes as Yeah Yeah Yeahs create a majestic album.
Overall, this album is a very enjoyable listen, one which should be revered for some time to come. Offering a set of very eclectic songs, where no two sound the same, the album offers punch after punch of either beauty of danceable rock.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs consist of Karen O (vocals), Nick Zinner (guitars) and Brian Chase (drums). They are an art/indie/rock band from New York. First album 'Fever to Tell' (released 2003) spawned popular singles 'Date with the night', 'Maps' and 'Pin'. The album was very punk sounding, which mellowed out for second LP 'Show your bones' (released 2006) consisting of a rock album that mixed acoustic and electric guitars. Again the album had critically and commercially successful singles 'Gold Lion' and 'Turn Into'.
New album Its Blitz was released in March 2009 and has been heralded as their best yet with another shift in sound, to a more disco orientated rock feel, yet still maintaining that distinctive Yeah Yeah Yeahs sound
**TRACK BY TRACK GUIDE
Lead single. One of the more guitar led tracks which is instantly recognisable as YYYs trademark sound. Clever as well as catchy and one of the strongest tracks on the album [10/10]
-HEADS WILL ROLL
Keyboard led track and second single to be lifted off the album. Mixed with guitars for the chorus, the song builds up and represents another strong track [9/10]
Another electronic feel but much softer than previous two songs. Karens vocals sound awesome amongst the solo-like quiet guitar in the chorus.
Good example of the change in sound [9/10]
Almost ballad like and with what sound like bagpipes towards the end. Shows what versatility YYYs have [8.5/10]
Surely a future single. A real swagger track that features guitars heavily but still with an emphasis on melody. Vocals are more rock based [10/10]
-SHAME AND FORTUNE
Led by a drum beat throughout and another track that builds up. A grower but not as instantly catchy and obvious as the rest of the album [7/10]
Piano/keyboard led and an awesome rock ballad. Such a simple melody but perfect alongside Karen O's increasingly impressive vocals. Arguably best track [10/10]
Real funky disco like rthymn, which still features guitars and drum as a prominant force but in a much more melodic way than in previous records. The double vocal track is really well thought out. Another key track [9.5/10]
Another great track and another slowed down with keyboards being used beautifully against the backdrop of guitars and drums [9.5/10]
Another slow track to finish off the album but arguably the weakest track of the whole album. Another grower but for me doesnt sit well against the previous nine songs. [6/10]
Now its been out a while you can pick this up in most places for under a tenner which would represent excellent value for money.
I think its a great album. Yeah Yeah Yeahs started off being pigeon holed as a art punk band and have surpassed all expectations with their change in styles. Im sure some die hards would lazily claim they have sold out but they make excellent music and music that is well thought out. In this day and age I find that approach refreshing!
Take a look at the cover of the new Yeah Yeah Yeahs album - immediate, powerful, fun isn't it? Yep and it fits the sound of this new album from the New York based trio perfectly.
Rocking straight into opening track "Zero" the band have added a welcome dose of healthy electronics to their sound. The synth on the first track really sets the tone for the record and adds a buzzing, fun, and energetic overtone which makes this song really a lot of fun to listen to. Just beware, the chorus is an absolute killer and will be stuck in your head for the next week. The same can be said for "Heads Will Roll" with it's killer ending "off, off, off with your heads! Dance, dance, dance till you're dead!", appropriately accompanied by driving beats and synth.
Karen O, the lead singer and soul of the band, has done an excellent job on this album of retaining the raw, untrained and garagey sound to her voice, while livening things up a bit from previous recordings. She seems more in control and this makes for more interesting, boppy tunes than the previous, at times droney sound that she was known for. On tracks like "Soft Shock" she even does a little bit of what I suppose is the closest this rocker girl will ever get to crooning. Don't get me wrong, the power is still there, indeed it's refreshed with some additional energy and confidence, but fans of the purely garage sound that the band previously championed may be disappointed.
The opening of "Skeletons" is rather retro in it's use of the echoey synth, but there's no denying the modernity of Karen O's vocals. The song progresses into an ethereal and spacey vocal and electronic arrangement which is wholly unchartered territory for this alt rock band. It's fantastic to see them branching out into other areas and showing a softer, more mature side to their sound.
"Dull Life" also starts out a little slower, but then just when you're being lulled by it's sweet charm, sucker punches you with a much harder edged guitar riff and vocals that knock your socks off with attitude. The sound is full and much more complex than fans will have heard on previous albums - think perhaps a sexier, spunkier version of The Killers, but with a hot female lead.
Bringing back some of the distortion and dischordance that characterised the band's earlier releases are tracks like "Shame and Fortune". The sound is still taken a step further though and is a lot more polished than in the past.
In "Runaway" the vocals take on an almost plaintive tone and the introduction of the slide guitar and piano come together to add another facet to this record. "Hysteric" and "Little Shadow" are also slower tracks, although not perhaps as effective. There is definitely something deeper going on in this music.
While a lot of fun and certainly more up my alley than their previous recordings, the album isn't a perfect home-run. For example the track "Dragon Queen" feels empty and unfinished, with a much less developed vocal track that seems to be poorly compensated for by additional backing vocals and over the top effects. Actually the last third of the album in general is a tiny bit disappointing, I'm sad to say. It's still good, don't get me wrong, it's just that itfails to live up to the excellence of the first few tracks. Slower tracks can be just as powerful and exciting as faster ones but the band doesn't quite pull it off here.
All in all though there is definitely more than enough worth listening to on this album to justify buying it. The first two tracks alone are worth the price of the record. If you wanna bump up the energy, kick up your heels and fling your hair around (or just, you know, generally get your feet tapping) this is the record for you. Pick it up!
It's Blitz presents a major step forward for the NYC trio. Firey lead single 'Zero' is indicative of the way this LP stays true to YYYs roots of garage-punk. Its a simple, yet brilliant salvo which shows that amid whails of feedback and scretchy vocals, an indie dancefloor filler comes to the fore.
The rest of the LP harks back to vitality and sparseness of their debut EP, with added production bringing out the best of tracks like 'Soft Shock' and the fraught 'Dragon Queen'.
Heads Will Roll offers the other side of YYYs, the broooding, teenage-angst filled side that best presented itself in essential 2004 single Maps.
Glamour is a big factor in the success of the YYYs, and it could be said that the technical ability of guitarist Nick Zinner and drummer Brian Chase are been overlooked. But It's Blitz's marriage of these backing beats with Karen O's distinctive vocals means YYYs are at the top of their game.
The Yeah Yeah Yeahs are here with their third full-length album, having emerged from the cocoon that was 2006's critically-acclaimed "Show Your Bones" as a fully-formed sonic dance punk outfit. The band have grown wings, flying high as the familiar, essential, stripped-down style of before is bolstered by a new-found synthesised sound that marks a diversion from previous offerings.
Karen O's vocals are instantly recognizable, as are Nick Zinner's buzz-saw guitars, but what grabs the attention are the dirty, fuzzing synth riffs creeping round each track, infecting the album with a delicious electronica not witnessed before from New York's acclaimed three-piece. Brian Chase's percussive bombs keep dropping; all that was great before has been retained, but this record bears witness to an ever-improving and evolving band.
--- Zero ---
The first single to be released from the album, "Zero" comes screaming out of the sun, strafing the listener with a surprise sonic assault that lays the tone for the rest of the album. That surprise synthesizer sound is the first thing to hit the listener. This opening track is a message of intent; and the cruising, buzzing electronic sound nestled at the centre of this opening track is as enigmatic as it is original.
--- Heads Will Roll ---
Begins with a cruising synth, leading in to Karen's stark, stripped-down yowl. As the drum beat kicks in, the whole track comes together, leading in to a shimmering whispered chorus, flanked by grinding guitars and twinkling piano.
--- Softshock ---
On first listen to "It's Blitz" this track is perhaps the most memorable, for all the right reasons as it is a triumphant piece of music. Think John Carpenter's score on "Assault on Precinct 13" laid over the feedback-derived hook from "Idioteque" on Radiohead's "Kid A". For the chorus a pulsing synth drawl is pierced by yearning vocals giving us three minutes and fifty three seconds of sheer genius.
--- Skeletons ---
A promising start; pensive creeping synth backing, sparse yearning vocals, the meat has been rasped off and we are down to bare scaffolding sufficient to sustain the song. Things are looking up. Then it happens; somewhere along the line someone had the terrible idea of slotting in some sort of Irish flute sound which evokes the worst memories of watching a matinee of Titanic, with Clannad getting all celtic two rows behind you. Disappointingly incongruous to the rest of the record, "Skeletons" misses the mark.
--- Dull Life ---
A deliciously empty intro with a thin, twinkling guitar leaping in to a scaling shriek from Karen O, with a throbbing percussion support. Barbed rasping vocals are found in an explosive chorus, as mysterious whispers underpin the whole track. This is a story about betrayal and Karen oscillates between restrained, reflective anger and the full blown fury of a cuckolded bull rhinocerus. Breathtaking.
--- Shame and Fortune ---
The familiar vocal yowl, backed by a grinding guitar riff. As the drumbeat kicks in the rest almost reluctantly follows. The guitar lead carries the rest of the track through with a piercing, rasping effect. The lyrics seem to be toying with an admirer's feelings in a track oozing vengeance:
'Shame is soft and safe
Lose when I play your game'.
--- Runaway ---
Backed only by a simple piano sound, Karen's lyrics are strong enough to pull the song through to the orchestral heart that eventually follows, culminating in a brooding, deep sound. We are in the mellow body of the album with a more pensive, Ms. O. After the torment of the preceding track, redemption is the key in an epic work of art:
'Run, run, run away
Lost, lost, lost my mind
Like you to stay
Want you to be my prize'.
--- Hysteric ---
Illuminating the second half of the album, "Hysteric" is a hauntingly beautiful love letter containing a stunning chorus ending in a delicious moment of epiphany:
'Flow sweetly, hang heavy
You suddenly complete me'.
--- Dragon Queen ---
Chase's percussion leads the song as a jangling guitar soars over an eccentric synth track which evolves in to a chorus featuring Karen's lyrics which have been mashed through enough electrical circuitry as to sound almost unrecognisable, evoking memories of New Order's Bizarre Love Triangle.
--- Little Shadow ---
The album closes out with a subtle, reflective, deliciously confused track giving us a mixture of longing and regret. Whilst not spectacular in any way, this is a very effective non-finish to the story as there remains the feeling that there is unfinished business here.
It's hard to pin down "It's Blitz". At times it is deliciously, darkly inhuman, almost as if it were crafted by a sentient machine. This is no bad thing, as occasionally this record reaches dizzying heights on the back of the inorganic influence that the new-found synthesised feel affords. Conversely, the record is regularly lifted by Karen O's lyrics which provide an emotional antidote to the masterfully vacant programming.
For an album so impressively spartan "It's Blitz" shows us emphatically that Less Means More, as time and again, the listener is elevated higher and higher as a truly euphoric record unfurls. Indeed the rarified air up here is so thin it's a triumph that the Yeah Yeah Yeahs can fly so high and yet give us a piece of work that can leave us in a morass of inhuman loneliness one moment, before instantly elevating us to the most comfortable of happy places.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Zero - Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Nick Launay, David Andrew Sitek, Eric Biondo, Stuart Bogie, Dan Huron, Mark 'Spike' Stent, Matty Green
2 Heads Will Roll
3 Soft Shock
5 Dull Life
6 Shame And Fortune
7 Runaway - Nick Launay, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, David Andrew Sitek, Dan Huron, Jane Scarpantoni, Greg Kurstin, Mark 'Spike' Stent, Matty Green
8 Dragon Queen - Nick Launay, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, David Andrew Sitek, Tunde Adebimpe, Stuart Bogie, Kyp Malone, Dan Huron, Mark 'Spike' Stent, Matty Green
9 Hysteric - Nick Launay, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, David Andrew Sitek, Eric Biondo, Stuart Bogie, Dan Huron, Mark 'Spike' Stent, Matty Green
10 Little Shadow - Nick Launay, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, David Andrew Sitek, Dan Huron, Imaad Wasif, Mark 'Spike' Stent, Matty Green