In the four years since the release of the Grammy-nominated “It’s Blitz!,” the Yeah Yeah Yeahs have kept a relatively low profile. The pressure to follow up such a commercial and critical success would have driven a lesser band to the brink of insanity, but these guys are hardly amateurs. “Mosquito” delivers 11 solid tracks of their iconic post-punk rock brand to prove that they’re determined to get inside your head — and stay there.
“Mosquito” carries a religious theme that is subtle at times and heavier at others, using a gospel choir to emphasize this underlying attitude. Rather than sharing spiritual dogma, the band members have chosen to convey a different message — we are depraved souls in need of saving, but we might already be too far-gone.
This idea is especially clear on tracks like lead single “Sacrilege” and the titular “Mosquito.” The latter features a chorus of “I will suck your blood/I will suck your blood/suck your suck your suck your blood” sung in frontwoman Karen O’s distinctive, exhilarating screech.
The religious themes continue on tracks like “Slave” and “Buried Alive,” which touch upon being enslaved by responsibilities and feelings — and the need to free oneself of both. “Buried Alive” features an impressive Nick Valensi-esque guitar riff along with verses provided by Dr. Octagon for a sound that is at once The Cure and Devo with a modern spin.
The Yeah Yeah Yeahs have managed to explore new styles with their music while still remaining true to their original artistic sound. “Subways,” the band’s ode to their hometown of New York City, features a mesmerizing recording of subway cars riding on the tracks that is both familiar and unsettling.
While there is little to dislike about the album in general, there is a noticeable repetition of lyrics on many of the tracks. Thankfully, the band makes up for it in artfully composed instrumentals and O’s versatile vocals. It gives the impression that the words are not as important as how the songs sound and make the listener feel.
O’s voice ranges from a falsetto gasp on “These Paths” to a bratty snarl on the celestial “Area 52,” the latter featuring bizarre accents and guttural distortion only fit for the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
Even while exploring new sonic territory, each track sounds like it belongs on a Yeah Yeah Yeahs album. The fearless innovation and masterful composition of “Mosquito” only goes to show that the Yeah Yeah Yeahs have certainly not run out of ideas just yet.
A version of this article appeared in the April 16 print edition. Alexandria Ethridge is music editor. Email her at [email protected]