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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