For the better part of a decade, the New York-based art-rock trio Yeah Yeah Yeahs have never played it safe with their music until now. It stands to reason that even though they are only composed of vocalist Karen O, guitarist Nick Zinner and drummer Brian Chase, they make music that sounds like a multitude of hands have left their mark on it. Their new effort attempts to draw from the wealth of the artful New York rock scene that sired them, with famed LCD Soundsystem frontman James Murphy providing his expertise as a producer on the album. One would think that all of these elements coming together would create something sonically bombastic, but ‘Mosquito’ is step a backward musically for the group.
The album comes off as dreary, disjointed, and tame. It is not nearly as instantly inviting as their previous album, “It’s Blitz!” Most of the tracks on the album focus too much on building a sort or crescendo that leads nowhere, leaves you wanting less and almost puts you to sleep. On “Buried Alive,” surrealist M.C. Dr. Octagon aka Kool Keith makes an appearance, but the song itself falls flat and fails to light the spark that the Yeah Yeah Yeahs are famous for.
‘Mosquito’ is not without its highlights. “Sacrilege” and the album’s title track, “Mosquito” are the high points of the album. “Sacrilege” and “Mosquito” deftly channel David Byrne and his ilk, with sweeping gospel-esque choruses and frenetic energy. Karen O’s vocals are featured prominently on the title track, and serve as a form of nostalgia for fans who remember the band’s grimy roots in the New York club scene. These two tracks, however, could not save an album that is mediocre in comparison to their previous fare. Up until this point, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs have made a name for themselves by producing music that challenges its listeners, but “Mosquito” fails spectacularly in this respect. ‘Mosquito’ is ultimately a sad and rare form of regression for the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.