A triumphant return for New York's finest.
Chris Jones 2009-03-09
Three years on from Show Your Bones, It's Blitz! sees the Yeah Yeah Yeahs getting their mojo back, albeit at the expense of any decent work rate. Rumours of a new direction turn out to be a worrying adoption of dancefloor synths, but underneath the mirrorball trappings there's still the slightly grimy post punk thrill. It's the sound of Karen O and co. growing up.
Using producers Dave 'Ubiquitous, moi?' Sitek and Nick Launay means that It's Blitz retains enough of the old YYYs while acknowledging the 36 months that have passed. The heartache that made Show Your Bones a little too patchy and introspective has been replaced by a calmer, more thoughtful approach to both lyrics and arrangements. First track and single Zero comes all dressed up in the somewhat tired and bedraggled garb of electroclash (though it's weirdly more Pet Shop Boys than DFA) as does the following Heads Will Roll which dabbles in Studio 54 hedonism (''the men cry out the girls cry out, oh no'') with its Blondie-in-Moroder-mode thump. To deny their excitement is futile, though you can't escape the nagging feeling that something's too generic here. The growl of bass sequencers is best appreciated on the later Shame And Fortune where Nick Zinner's processed-to-hell guitars underpin a truly invigorating stop start ride.
On Skeleton the real stuff has kicks in and Karen O's yelps have softened into a Nena-style (as in 99 Red Balloons, and trust me this is a good thing) lamenting croon. Dull Life shows how it's drummer Brian Case who's often the driving force here - he's the living reincarnation of the spirit of Echo And The Bunnymen's Pete De Freitas - all rumbling toms and tribal assault. By this point resistance is futile.
At its heart, It's Blitz! is great power pop. The formula of quiet building to epic proportions is perhaps overplayed by the time you get to Little Shadow. Which is a shame because it's a truly moving end piece. Whatever, it'll be interesting to see how they translate this more widescreen sound into live shows. If you add up the sum of its parts It's Blitz! is a triumphant return for New York's finest.