Yeah Yeah Yeahs – It’s Blitz!

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Yeah Yeah Yeahs – It’s Blitz! (Interscope Records – released March 10, 2009)

So let’s just get this out of the way. This is not your typical Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and if you’re expecting, even needing the old YYYs, you’re going to be disappointed. This is YYYs on a synthesizer induced disco-pop high, and while that may sound like a recipe for disaster it really isn’t. Karen O’s voice hits just as hard over drum machine and electro-synth harmonies as it would over Nick Zinner’s guitar. Both opening tracks have the same energy and explosive buildups that you’d find on other YYYs songs. I mean compare Kiss, Kiss (from Is Is) to Zero and Heads Will Roll:

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Both Zero and Heads Will Roll step undeniably into the electronic world, but the essence of what is so great about their sound is retained. I’ve heard a lot of criticism about how this is a backward looking album, how they haven’t really innovated here at all but have instead picked up the electronic sound of the not too distant past. I think that while this seems to be a somewhat fair criticism, it is only so if you expect all good music to be always on the cutting, bleeding, avant-garde edge. I think that’s really the only criticism one can honestly come up with for it…that it’s not anything groundbreaking.

I feel like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs decided to strike out in a different direction, riffing on sounds that have worked in the past and applying (very successfully) their own style to it.

For those who need Zinner’s guitar and Brian Chase’s drums, though, fret not as there is still Dull Life which is straight-up old school Yeah Yeah Yeahs:

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There’s also a couple of really nice softer tracks, particularly Hysteric and Little Shadow:

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All in all It’s Blitz feels like it fits squarely into the very good category. It was a cool new direction for them to reach out into, and was a solid release. I agree that they haven’t done anything revolutionary here, but it was welcome and it’s going to stay in my regular rotation for a while.