Today, after months of anticipation, Yeah Yeah Yeahs release their fourth full-length album, Mosquito. Overall reviews have been fairly positive, but with the exception of lead single “Sacrilege” and one or two other tracks, I found the album to be a bit of a slog. Too blurry around the edges, without enough hooks for listeners to grab on to. Like the sound effects on “Subway,” it’s reminiscent of a train driving through the countryside in the middle of the night — it’s a powerful engine swallowed by the peacefulness of its surroundings. Anyway, this was a tough realization, because YYYs are one of my favorite bands. Here are the five Kübler-Ross stages I went and everyone goes through when admitting a great band has released their weakest album to date.
God, I’ve been waiting so long for this to come out. Has it really been five years since they released their last album? *longingly remembers what I think I was doing five years ago* There’s no way it won’t be excellent, either; they’ve been around for over a decade, and have put out classic after classic. I know it’s way too early, and I haven’t listened to the damn thing yet, but I’m sure this is going to be in the top-five of my best albums of the year list.
DENIAL: This first song’s not too bad. Kind of catchy, kind of bold. That’s a good call. Switching things up a little. Don’t want to get stuck caught in any musical ruts. If the whole album sounded like this — ah, it’s the first single, that makes sense — I’d be happy. Wouldn’t be as good as their first album, but definitely equal to the third.
ANGER: The hell? OK, well…the rest of the album, not so hot. New is good, but this? Why is Dr. Octagon on “Buried Alive”? Why does their individualism sound so boring? For a song called “These Paths,” it oddly doesn’t go anywhere; it just drolly squiggles along for five-plus minutes. Unfortunately, that’s fairly symptomatic to the entire album: at its worst, like the embarrassingly half-baked “Area 52,” it’s dreary, aimless with no one song feeling like it should follow the one before it, and worst of all, kind of boring. There’s an occasional energy to the songs, especially in Nick Zinner’s forever-inspired guitar work, but you have to force yourself into hearing it. Mosquito is a far cry from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs at their best, when “Heads Will Roll” and “Kiss Kiss” would explode with a pent-up mix of anger and glee. It’s moody and blurry, and too often, nothing more.
BARGAINING: I’m going to pretend I like the album because everyone else does. Maybe I’m missing something; it could be a grower, not a shower. The sorrowful “Despair” is great and “Wedding Song,” which recalls “Modern Romance” from Fever to Tell, sounds like the soundtrack to a stirring movie montage. Sure, Mosquito is great.
DEPRESSION: Mosquito isn’t great. One of the things that makes Yeah Yeah Yeahs so essential is that they’re not one thing — they’re punk, they’re art rock, they’re dance music, they can pull of both furious scorchers and beautiful ballads. They have no specific exceptions attached to them because of the way they’ve been able to hop from one genre to the other; they do what they want, yet usually keep one sound contained to one album (i.e. It’s Blitz is the dance record, etc.). But on Mosquito, for the first time in their career, Karen & Co. made a mistake: they threw everything in their arsenal into 47 minutes of material. Plus, that album cover… *sigh*
ACCEPTANCE: Is the Daft Punk album out yet?