In a recent Rolling Stone interview, Yeah Yeah Yeahs vocalist Karen O referenced the band’s third LP, “It’s Blitz!,” as “Something new that we’ve never heard before from ourselves. Less angst and more positivity, man!” If that’s the difference between the new record and their previous output, it’s a bit hard not to hope they feel edgy again next time they enter the studio.
It’s not that there’s anything bad on “It’s Blitz!,” originally scheduled to drop in April, but pushed up to a March 10 digital release and March 31 physical release after it leaked online. It’s all very pleasant to listen to, from the disco-punk romp “Heads Will Roll” to the dreamy, subtle “Skeletons.” The problem is that aside from two standouts that are bound to go down as Yeah Yeah Yeahs classics, the infectious first single “Zero” and the sparkling, gorgeous “Hysteric,” there’s not much to latch onto.
On the band’s last LP, 2006’s “Show Your Bones,” the New York City-based trio achieved a solid balance of their flagship style of punky, swaggering rock and melodic pop. This time they decided to focus on an icy dance-rock vibe, loading the album with vintage synths. This actually sounds like a pretty good idea on paper - a band like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs needs to keep evolving to stay fresh – and the formula does succeed to a certain extent. The production sparkles, there's an occasional rocking moment and Karen O sounds as compelling as ever as a disco-rock vixen, but the material simply can’t keep up with the performances. Many of the tracks come and go without making much of an impact. You wait for them to kick into gear, but the climax never comes.
That said, there’s no doubt that “It’s Blitz!,” can be enjoyed on some level by any established fan of the band. Everything here is at least decent, and Karen O's distinctive vocal stylings are always worth a listen. For anyone looking to get into them for the first time, though, "Fever to Tell," "Show Your Bones," or the band's 2007 "Is Is" EP would make for a much more powerful introduction.
You can currently stream "It's Blitz!" in its entirety at myspace.com/yeahyeahyeahs. The band will announce U.S. tour dates soon. Perhaps they'll hit up Chicago via a return slot at Lollapalooza?
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