Yeah Yeah Yeahs
First Appeared in The Music Box, January 2010, Volume 17, #1
Written by John Metzger
Wed January 6, 2010, 06:30 AM CST
Groups that make a sizeable splash, much as Yeah Yeah Yeahs did with its 2006 endeavor Show Your Bones, generally are faced with two options. Some will take a conservative approach by choosing to adhere to the successful script they created for themselves. By contrast, other more adventurous outfits will take steps toward widening their purview by obliterating their established formula as well as any of the preconceived notions that had begun to swirl around them. Both paths, of course, are fraught with perils.
In crafting its latest effort Itís Blitz, Yeah Yeah Yeahs opted to jettison its art-punk ways in favor of a sound that is crisper, cleaner, and more accessible. Most notably, an aura of shimmering synthesizers stands in place of the edgy blasts that once sprang with wild abandon from Nick Zinnerís guitar. Stylistically, Itís Blitz is deeply rooted in the music of the 1980s, and its arrangements are heavily influenced by outfits that run the gamut from Blondie and Pretenders to David Bowie and U2. Nevertheless, there is no possible way to misinterpret Yeah Yeah Yeahsí shift in direction. From start to finish, Itís Blitz is essentially a dance-pop album constructed from recycled components from the New Wave scene. Yet, it is nearly impossible to shake the feeling that the entirety of the endeavor was designed to feed material directly into the re-mix machine.
Not surprisingly, then, Itís Blitz is an album that is best taken in small doses. Most of the collectionís tunes pulsate with energy and electricity, while the rest are laced with dramatic tension plucked straight from one of Brian Enoís projects. Jittery beats underscore the setís heart-pounding opening track Zero; silvery synthesizers slip across the propulsive surface of Heads Will Roll; and ghostly textures soar through the swollen atmospherics of Skeletons. Over the course of the collection, Yeah Yeah Yeahís melodic tendencies appear to remain largely intact. When the outing is taken in full, however, Itís Blitz inevitably melts into a throbbing roar of club-scene mania that ultimately becomes ridiculously redundant and wearisome, especially for an affair that lasts less than 42 minutes.
The problem with Itís Blitz largely seems to emanate from the production choices that were made by TV on the Radioís David Sitek. The critical acclaim surrounding his band has turned him into a hired-hand who is very much in demand. With each passing project, though, it is becoming increasingly apparent that his involvement yields the same set of unsurprising results. Dragon Queen is a prime example. His approach transforms the tune into a hybrid of The Whoís Eminence Front and Bowieís China Girl.
For the most part, Sitekís heavy-handed style not only thrusts Yeah Yeah Yeahs outside its comfort zone, but it also leaves the group there to flounder. The band never truly succeeds in assimilating its new ideas into its repertoire, and even when Sitek isnít involved, it often feels as if Yeah Yeah Yeahs is trying too hard to put some distance between itself and its past. In fact, itís almost as if the collective knew where it wanted to go, but was unsure of how to get there. Sitek subsequently was brought on board, but instead of providing guidance, he merely applied a thin patch to the gaping holes in Yeah Yeah Yeahsí theories. Consequently, instead of emerging with an expanded arsenal, it sounds as if the outfit has been consumed by its creative process.
It is undeniably admirable that Yeah Yeah Yeahs is searching for new terrain to explore, and its gambit may prove to be fruitful somewhere down the road. For now, though, Itís Blitz, is merely a transitional affair. Unless the group has an opportunity to digest the albumís contents fully and completely, it is hard to imagine that most of these tunes have much of a shelf-life beyond Yeah Yeah Yeahsí current tour.
Of Further Interest...
It's Blitz is available from
Barnes & Noble. To order, Click Here!
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
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