Chris Schulz is the deputy head of entertainment for the New Zealand Herald.

Album review: Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Mosquito

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Album cover for Mosquito. Photo / Supplied
Album cover for Mosquito. Photo / Supplied

If you were wondering if Karen O can still wail like a demented banshee, the answer is yes.

"I'll suck your blood," shrieks the Yeah Yeah Yeahs' frontwoman on Mosquito, the title track on the New York band's fourth record, which rushes along like the frenetic punk-rock of their debut.

But it's a rare moment of rawk on an album that prefers odd bursts of experimentation and hushed minimalism to the forward-thinking progression that made previous albums such a thrill.

Not all of it works: The over-the-top gospel wailing on Sacrilege kills an otherwise top-notch single; the downtuned bass and vocal reverbs on the overmixed Under the Earth give it a weird ska vibe; and when rapper Kool Keith turns up on Buried Alive you can't help but wonder if it's a prank left over from April Fools' Day.

Amid all that chaos, it's the softer moments that really stand out, like the tender lullaby Subway, the subtle shimmering of Always and the ballad Wedding Song, which almost matches Maps for emotional intensity.

But best of all is Despair, a slow-building ode to sadness that ends on a sunny note.

It proves the Yeah Yeah Yeahs haven't forgotten how to be the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, they're just not doing it as often as they should.

Stars: 3/5
Verdict: Karen O and co try something new. Results mixed

- TimeOut

- NZ Herald

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