Being in the mood for mellower music tends to make you avoid bands like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, as I sort of did when I first got the album. It just grated on me, and I don’t think I listened to it more than a half dozen times before throwing in whatever soothing laid-back album I was favoring at the moment. It’s quite possible I never even let it get all the way to the end until a few weeks later. After listening to it a little more, I will say that I think it's alright but that the Master EP was much stronger overall, maybe because it was so short and easier to take in all at once.
The first seven songs are more like their older material, granted, a little weirder in some ways, but with plenty of Karen O’s screeches, squeals, and sexy intonations to either keep it interesting or drive you crazy. The eighth song, “No, No, No”, is quite obviously a transition into the last three songs on the album by way of a punkish intro and a drawn-out, effects driven soundscape that finally ends so the flow of the last three songs can begin.
Karen O hinted before the album was released that the new songs were influenced by the fact that she fell in love before writing them, and it definitely shows. I never thought that we would hear her be any sweeter than on “Our Time” on the Master EP but she has surpassed that tenfold. The songs, in general, are more pop and less in yr face than the bulk of the album, where it sometimes sound like they’re trying a little too hard to be different.
“Maps” has beautiful lyrics that will stick in your head long after the stereo is turned off; when she sings “wait... they don’t love you like I love you” on top of a superb mesh of single guitar notes and simple drum beat, you can’t help but believe her and smile in empathy. “Y-Control” just has a more cohesive feel than the earlier songs and trails off right into “Modern Romance,” which has to be my favorite track on the album-- though I’ll admit that I’m a sucker for a good somber song about the concept of love/or the lack thereof and this fits the bill perfectly with lyrics like: “It never lasts, and there is no, this is no, modern romance.” The “secret” song that starts a little over a minute later is very minimal musically, starting off with just a soft guitar and drums and doesn’t reach any sort of culmination until the last five seconds which ends the album nicely. It doubles back lyrically though to the beauty of the beginning of a relationship when you just don’t care what other people think and know that you want to be with that person and that’s all. Aww, Karen O’s gone a little soft.... but I think many will be pleased with the results.
* note: If I could base my rating on the last songs alone it would easily be higher.
2. Date With The Night
5. Black Tongue
7. Cold Light
8. No No No
10. Y Control
11. Modern Romance