Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Mosquito (Music Review)

Mosquito cover

Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Mosquito

Mosquito finds the Yeah Yeah Yeahs continuing their path towards laid-back electo-pop and disco beats. Karen O is the casual, confident center of the band. While these songs have nothing in common with “lounge music”, it’s easy to imagine her vocals as the lazy swirls of smoke through a trendy but seedy room behind a velvet rope. However, though these songs can’t be written off, they also don’t possess any of the urgency or meaning that first defined the band.

The dominant theme is a sideways look at kinky relationships. This is most obvious in songs like “Slave”, and the title track is also a metaphor for parasitic men. But while earlier albums had occasional flashes of insight mixed in with the sex and relationships, this offers nothing beneath the surface. Sometimes the songs can still be inspired, such as “Sacrilege” and its story about sleeping with an angel. But that song also feels like just an introduction that goes nowhere (“Fallen for a guy/who fell down from the sky/halo round his head/feathers in our bed” comprise about half the lyrics). Ultimately, the whole album is like that: Worthwhile ideas without much follow-through.

The gaudy album cover clashes with the band’s sleek presentation, but is a worthwhile representation of “Area 52”. That song is a sudden, upbeat plea from Karen O for aliens to kidnap her, and it has the beat and trashy sound of a Lords of Acid-lite club track from fifteen years ago. That’s not meant to condemn the song, though: As forgettable as “Area 52” is, Mosquito needs more unexpected turns like that. Instead, with the band staying on a fairly predictable path, the best way to approach it is just to find out which song is the new “Maps”, and skip right to it. (That song, “Despair”, is smooth, catchy, and finally shows real emotion… just don’t compare it to previous songs like “Maps” or “Turn Into”.)

Karen O’s personality still drives the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and she’s still a frontwoman that most bands would kill for. But where that used to mean that every aspect of the performance was unpredictable and perfect for the song, now it means daring lyrics on top of tired music. Mosquito may be appearing after a four-year break for the group, but it doesn’t appear that anything changed in this time.

Grade: C

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