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Thursday, December 14

Soundbite: Yeah Yeah Yeahs


Yep, uh-huh, you betcha, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs have earned their third “yeah” with their third record, “It’s Blitz!”

Vocalist Karen O, guitarist Nick Zinner, and drummer Brian Chase prove to be seasoned and solid with a record that balances impressive control over their work. They still let themselves go frequently (OK, most of the time) to achieve the boisterous quality for which they are known.

The retro-futuristic album experiments with disco, but in a rock way. They use all different kinds of sounds, from synths ““ again utilized for rock as opposed to typical dance-electro ““ and all kinds of guitar effects.

If “blitz” means an “overwhelming all-out attack,” then their plan of attack goes a little bit like this: In the beginning of the record, the band assaults listeners’ cores with valiant dance jams.

However, everything following the bombardment of the first two tracks must be when they relent and give us some mellow songs, threatening occasionally with tunes that are upbeat and catchy, but none as gritty and head-banging as in the beginning.

The first track is, quite simply, the best dance track in recent memory. It’s one of those unique songs that builds so perfectly that its crescendo is explosive, even though it’s actually pretty mild. The beginning consists of a titillating, purring synth accompanied by inspiring, zealous lyrics: “Shake it ““ like a ladder to the sun, makes me feel like a madman on the run.”

O gets listeners even more revved up by telling them to “get your leather on,” which at that point sounds like a pretty good idea. When she yells the chorus, “You’re a zero-oooh!” it actually feels like the purest compliment, far better than something like, “Shawty is a 10.”

The explosion occurs, quite refreshingly, as the second chorus kicks in, but this time it’s reinvigorated with synth bass.

The next track, “Heads Will Roll,” sees O as Marie Antoinette at a rave. “Off with your head!” she orders, “Dance-dance-dance till your death!” The rest of the song is flecked with cool, shiny, futuristic language with words like “glitter,” “silver” and my favorite croony utterance, “You’re all chrome.”

The song “Skeleton” may sound like it would be a dark garage-banger, but it’s actually a wistful ballad in which O’s voice sounds sweetly fragile and vulnerable. The effect is sort of like when an elementary school teacher talks super-softly in order to get everyone to shut up and listen intently.

The lyrics are composed of lines that are either two or three words, like a poetry class where attendees must make sense of the pattern, syllables and diction.

Even if there’s not a point to all of these seemingly random words thrown together, like “Fall asleep, spin the sky, skeleton me,” O’s lullaby contrasts against the escalating Celtic drum sequence which swells up toward the end, building up to some kind of euphoria.

Finally, “Shame and Fortune” is a feisty jam reminiscent of the 2004 hit “Gold Lion.” “Dragon Queen” diverges away from superlative dance and slow songs to deliver a captivating pop song.

The album is arranged in a way that allows you to enjoy the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ spectrum and to explore all the different moods and emotions even one day can encompass. And what’s any day without a little havoc (or, if you will, “blitzkrieg”)?

It’s fitting that the title “It’s Blitz!” has an exclamation point in it, because the album is exciting, no matter if the song is all-out disco-rock ‘n’ roll or pensive.

““ Vanessa Labi

E-mail Labi at [email protected]

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