Four years. Fans have been waiting four years for the newest Yeah Yeah Yeahs album. That’s a lot of time for anticipation to build. Four years can make you almost forget what Yeah Yeah Yeahs sounded like.
Then you hear frontwoman Karen O’s vocals once more and you immediately remember that there is no other performer or singer who can attempt to sound like her – not even Lady Gaga.
For the newest album, “Mosquito,” Karen O’s vocals are top-notch (as they always have been), but different than in past albums. None of the songs are quite as punchy as “Maps” or “Phenomena,” but have an eerier kind of style.
The way the songs are recorded is what gives that odd quality. The vocals swap between lo-fi, low-quality recording, to a crisp voice. The heavy drums bounce through the songs and flow into the heavy bass, with ambient sounds thrown into the back end of the song.
If there was an anthem of the album, it would be either “Area 52” or the title track. Both songs have Karen O belting out choruses, and creepily warbling the lyrics. In “Mosquito,” she even makes the sound of the insect buzzing into your speakers. A heavy guitar riff opens up “Area 52” as the vocals have Karen O begging to be taken into space as an alien prisoner.
“Sacrilege” is a sexy song, and the chorus just has a sultry appeal to it. A gospel choir sits in the back of the song to support Karen O’s vocals. Her singing goes in and out between grungy, guttural singing to clean vocals, which effectively creates a mysterious tone for the song. Meshing the distinct singing with the choir is a perfect artistic choice, especially considering the name of the song “Sacrilege,” which is the word the choir mostly sings.
Moving into “Subway,” which is an ode to New York, there is a quieter opening with a bass line. There is an almost ambient quality to the backing music paired with the bass. Through that pairing, the strange style continues.
The whole album had this kind of uncanny feeling to it through Karen O’s voice and the ongoing prominent bass line. While it doesn’t have the punch or the instant catchiness that the previous Yeah Yeah Yeahs albums have, it goes in a different direction while still maintaining the overall quality through the vocals.