Plumbiferous Media

It’s Blitz! - Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Apr 9th 2009
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It's Blitz! - Yeah Yeah YeahsYeah Yeah Yeahs
It's Blitz!
Score: 31

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs has been around for about nine years now, though they have pro­duced only three LPs (includ­ing this album) in that time. While one might say that their slight inex­pe­ri­ence in record­ing albums has con­tributed to this new fail­ure of an album, “Maps” proves otherwise.

It’s Blitz! had poten­tial. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, Karen O threw it out the win­dow along with Nick Zin­ner’s gui­tar. On It’s Blitz!, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs has pro­duced none of the draw of their ear­li­er albums, and cer­tain­ly no tracks as notable as their best-known sin­gle, “Maps.” Pri­mar­i­ly, the album suf­fers vocal­ly. Karen O’s vocals have been proven to be, at the very least, decent on pre­vi­ous albums. Here, how­ev­er, they are stretched out to a point where their unique, “edgy” appeal becomes annoying. 

It’s only on the last few tracks of It’s Blitz! that the vocals begin to come any­where near the peak of Karen O’s abil­i­ty. But while “Hys­teric” and “Lit­tle Shad­ow” do exhib­it the best vocals of the album, that isn’t to say that either is a tru­ly good track. Both are over­long, some­what con­trived, have far more synth than can pos­si­bly be sus­tain­able and suf­fer from the same issue as the rest of the album - a gen­er­al­ized lack of cohe­sion. Fur­ther detri­men­tal to the cohe­sion of the album is the fact that not a sin­gle track on It’s Blitz! ends when it ought to. The two longest tracks on the album (“Skele­tons” and “Run­away,” both over 5 min­utes) lack the mate­r­i­al to fill their allot­ed time, and instead resort to repeat­ing the entire melod­ic pro­gres­sion - around the 1:30 mark. Even the lyrics suf­fer from this issue: “Run, run, run­away” repeat­ed a ridicu­lous num­ber of times does not make for good lyrics.

If any­thing, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs have proved on It’s Blitz! that they should not under any cir­cum­stances be trust­ed with a synth. Overused and abused on every track (even the best track on the album, “Hys­teric,” man­gles Karen O’s vocals with sub­stan­tial overuse of the “cho­rus” effect), the synth is pos­si­bly the sec­ond largest issue with the album, fol­low­ing the vocals. Zin­ner’s shift from his gui­tar to man­ning a synth was a bad­ly con­sid­ered deci­sion, and the idea that it was done in the name of cre­ativ­i­ty is worse still.

The prob­lems with It’s Blitz! are by no means few and far between. In fact, it takes quite a bit of dis­joint­ed­ness and lack of atten­tion to fail to notice issues with near­ly any track. Most of these prob­lems begin and end with Karen O. She is clear­ly, as we some­times hear on the album, but more so in the band’s old­er albums, a tal­ent­ed singer. There­fore, why she often decides to sing like a dying pigeon or wal­rus is beyond us. But even when she decides to sing in a slight­ly more wel­come man­ner, there are still sig­nif­i­cant issues, such as on “Zero,” where the emo­tion she tries to evoke is com­plete­ly removed from the rest of the track.

In addi­tion to mis­er­able vocal choic­es through­out the album, we are con­stant­ly remind­ed that Karen O has refused to let Nick Zin­ner play his gui­tar. Not only does this dis­en­fran­chise an extreme­ly impor­tant part of the three-man band, but it leaves us with an extra­or­di­nary amount of worth­less synth. The prob­lem with the synth is not that it sounds like a six year old mash­ing ran­dom tone effects while chang­ing inter­vals arbi­trar­i­ly; the prob­lem is that the six year old would prob­a­bly have sound­ed bet­ter. At least that way the already mis­er­able tracks would not be fur­ther marred by an extreme­ly exor­bi­tant amount of repetition.

It’s Blitz! is not by any means a good album. Not only do the tracks not work well togeth­er, but they also don’t work well alone. Between the shame­ful use of synth, the vocals, which bare­ly qual­i­fy as mediocre and occa­sion­al­ly descend into atroc­i­ty, and the over­whelm­ing amount of rep­e­ti­tion, It’s Blitz is most­ly notable for the degree to which it is a much worse effort than any of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ ear­li­er albums. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs has cer­tain­ly changed their style for this new album, and not in any good ways. It’s Blitz is clear evidence.

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