It’s Blitz!, the follow up to Yeah Yeah Yeahs 2006 album, Show Your Bones, hit the airwaves with their first single “Zero,” an infectious, electronic dance floor song that practically dares you to sit still while listening to it. Don’t let the song’s name fool ya, because Karen O and the boys are back and better than ever.
Lead singer Karen O, guitarist and keyboard man Nick Zinner, and drummer Brian Chase each bring their unique talents to the table to create a catchy, fun, and, for the most part, dance your ass off album that’s sure to solidify their current fan base, as well as add a huge new following of teens.
The album, which was recorded all over the place (including in a converted barn in Massachusetts, as well as on a pecan farm near El Paso, Texas), kicks off with the catchy single “Zero” that was recently heard in many teen, ‘tween and inbetween television shows. Sure, “Zero” is pure dance fun, but the addition of both a tenor saxophone and trumpet makes for layered music beyond the typical pulsing club tunes.
The momentum “Zero” creates isn’t let up with the next song, “Heads Will Roll,” which even uses a vintage ARP synthesizer. Zinner brought an old keyboard he bought on eBay to the songwriting sessions, and that vintage ARP can also be heard in “Skeletons,” “Heads Will Roll,” and “Soft Shock”. “Heads Will Roll” is infectious dance music (even Karen thinks so, when she sings, “Off with your heads! Dance till your dead!”). Three-quarters of the way through the song, it winds down to a guitar heartbeat before jumping and pumping once again.
One of my favorite songs on the album, “Soft Shock,” highlights Karen’s unique vocal stylings while blending keyboards and guitar for a danceable synth song that pulses and makes you want to move. “Dragon Queen” is another club catchy dance tune, but is a bit toned down and seemingly more radio friendly and less jarring than some of the other dance anthems on the album.
Of the mellow tracks, things slow down with the moody, atmospheric “Skeletons,” which layers slowly, ending with a huge crescendo that builds and builds before ending abruptly and softly, much how it started. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs give a nod to piano ballads with “Runaway,” which features Karen’s plaintive vocals in front of some piano tinkling, then adding beautiful backings from a cello (played by Greg Kurstin and Jane Scarpantoni, respectively). “Little Shadow” is the final track on the album, and while at times the song is slow to the point of dragging, it’s mellow and lulling.
The two tracks I could do without are “Dull Life,” which I found very harsh (guitars) and sharp (Karen seems to be yelling more than singing), and “Shame and Fortune,” which builds on drums and loud guitar buzzing, but doesn’t have much in the way of a melody or lyrics (once the guitar devolved into noise, I lost interest).
“Hysteric”, my favorite track from It’s Blitz, is a mid-tempo ballad that brings out the best in Karen’s vocals, while the keyboard and guitar don’t struggle for attention so much as slide in and out of the background, slipping between the lyrics seamlessly.
There’s plenty to like about It’s Blitz!, and fans of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs should check it out. For those unfamiliar with the band, the album has hints of classic New Order, Blondie, and the Pet Shop Boys, as well as indie rock/pop darlings Tegan and Sara.