Karen O. is back, and she’s dancing—or so she makes us think. The original hipster band from New York released their third album and it’s a love letter—it’s my love letter and yours, read aloud under the scattered light of a disco ball. This album combines the sensibility of MGMT’s enthusiasm, along with Karen O.’s personal finesse and emotional depth and a spot of New Wave. She is this generation’s Hope Sandoval and Beth Gibbons combined, without affectation, without orchestra, and with a lot of attitude. Karen O.’s voice simultaneously kisses you, fucks you, and kicks you out on your ass. This album is ballsy, blessed, and painful.
Amazon has a fantastic description of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs: “At the turn of the twenty-first century, the New York City music scene floated in a surfaceless orbit of samplers, shoegazers, and delay pedals. The city's guitars lay choked by a digital fog, or else they lay dustily forgotten. Then, in 2002, an unbridled five-song EP by an unknown band brought noise, sex, passion, and mayhem back to the stage and to the stereo. The band's name evoked the kid who knows that whoever's in charge is full of shit—"yeah, yeah, yeah"—but it also rang with the affirmation of pure rock and roll: Fuck yeah! The Yeah Yeah Yeahs' first full-length album, Fever to Tell, was simultaneously filthy, infectious, sloppy, and brilliant. You could dance to it, and you could probably die to it. "Maps" was nominated for a Grammy, and the record went gold in the UK.
That isn’t too far off from their latest album. On the deluxe version (which is the one you should get) of It's Blitz!, the first track, “Zero” might convince you that the rest of the album will follow suite, with pounding lines like “Shake it like a ladder in the sun/Makes me feel like a madman on the run/Find me never never far gone/so get your leather, leather, leather on.” But it doesn’t.
The acoustic versions of “Little Shadow,” “Hysteric,” “Soft Shock,” and “Skeletons” torch emotion into you like an erupting volcano. “Hysteric” lights you up—but the acoustic version digs you down. With lyrics like “flow sweetly, hang heavy, you suddenly complete me, you suddenly complete me” show that the Yeah Yeah Yeahs haven’t forgotten to keep life simple.
This album became my personal anthem in April, the cruelest month. Eliot was a prophet. Karen O. and the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s are just musicians. But It's Blitz! does something T.S. could never do—and that’s make you dance and cry at the same time.