Mosquito seems like a step back to the basis in what has been a lengthy musical journey for YEAH YEAH YEAHS. To be exact, it has been ten years since their debut record Fever to Tell. The three-piece from NYC have been on the verge of true commercial success for quite some time now. Don’t misunderstand us, it is not that they aren’t already famous and have fans allover the world. It is just that they seem to be more famous for frontwoman Karen O’s extravagant outfits and stage performances then their music. 2009’s It’s Blitz! was surely a step towards a more mainstream approval. Yet, would the YEAH YEAH YEAHS be the YEAH YEAH YEAHS if they didn’t do their own thing? In all these years they haven’t written any of their albums twice, which is not a bad strategy for survival when your target group is the generation of plenty.
Sometimes you have to make a decision, to find out for yourself, and that’s what had brought them there. On Mosquito YEAH YEAH YEAHS made unusual decisions. Yet, it seemed to have payed off. They incorporated a gospel choir, dub step sounds and also Hip-Hop Icon Dr. Octagon (Kool Keith) was invited to contribute. And all of this without losing any of their goofiness and punk rock attitude. As Karen O said in an interview: “It’s something for everyone on there”. And that, dear friends, is true.
Let’s, for example take a look at the opener and first single from the record Sacrilege. As the band themselves stated, this song would not be as great without the gospel choir accompanying Karen O’s distorted vocals. The choir brings this rather wave pop track back to its basics and gives it authenticity, yet, at the same time steps up its intensity. The title track Mosquito is a catchy and goofy song about mosquitos and their love for bloodsucking, from which Karen O has always been having a great revulsion.
Subway stands tall as the album’s most important track. It is a dream pop ballad and an homage to their home city NYC. In stead of being inspired by the city’s vibrant energy YEAH YEAH YEAHS, in fact, see the city more gingerly – just as on a hot summer night. They use the rattling of the subway as beat next to breathy vocals. Maybe Nick Zimmer, the band’s guitarist, is right and this song is the best song to make babies to.
Mosquito calls partly for a nauseated listen – when you for example hear them singing about aliens and killer insects – yet, it is still a fascinating listening. And in this exponentially expanding generation of plenty and boredom, this album becomes something that in its own way recalls that mythical thing that people once called ‘originality’. Originality is what saved YEAH YEAH YEAHS from vanishing just as many other bands from the oughties, and it is also what will keep us in mere hope for that their best records are still to come.