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Yeah Yeah Yeahs

It’s Blitz!
Three and a half stars
Interscope/Universal

Key tracks: ‘Soft Shock,’ ‘Dull Life,’ ‘Hysteric’

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Samar Grewal Apr 20, 2009
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After two albums and a trio of EPs, the booming guitar work of Yeah Yeah Yeahs instrumental powerhouse Nick Zinner takes a bit of a break on It’s Blitz!. The NY threesome have kept things pretty interesting for close to a decade now, pitting LV Karen O’s feral yipping, tattered melancholy and Presley swagger against a hip, rough-edged, staccato rhythm section (completed by drummer Brian Chase). It’s been a sound as much arty NY bravado as it is Grey’s Anatomy soundtrack material. Blitz! sees Zinner not so much abandon the six-string as bring in an army of synths en route to a shiny sonic makeover. Perhaps he took inspiration from the success of Interscope label-mates TV on the Radio’s Dear Science (Blitz! is produced by TVOTR guitarist Dave Sitek) but whatever the reasons, a nice long dip in the flavour-of-the-day has not tarnished Zinner’s touch as one of the most melodically inventive musicians on the block. The music retains every bit of the chance DIY brilliance that keeps the Yeah Yeah Yeahs relevant. O gets down to the dance agenda right off the bat (the band recently cited Donna Summer as a reference point, besides Joy Division) first with a call to “Shake it/Like a ladder to the sun” (”˜Zero’, a pulsating synth bass intro exploding into a mean electrofuzz lick) and then an order to “Dance till you’re dead” (”˜Heads Will Roll’, a club number coming off like Blonde Redhead playing with The Edge). Keeping the song count down to ten makes it possible to delve that much deeper into every one of the nuggets here. And there are many, from the addictive backmasked riff of ”˜Soft Shock’ to the ambient keys orchestra of ”˜Skeletons’ (a surprisingly compelling track when you think about the fact that it’s mostly held up by a sporadic marching beat), the dark Danny Elfman-ish cello shredding of ”˜Runaway’, the disco, funk and pop-infested riffing of ”˜Dragon Queen’ and one of O’s sweetest vocal performances on the remix-ready ”˜Hysteric’ (taking in equal measures of Aimee Mann and Whigfield). As for fans of the old way, the guitars have plenty say too, emphatically on ”˜Dull Life’ and ”˜Shame and Fortune’ and subtly on closer ”˜Little Shadow’. A versatile and impressive record.

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