Yeah Yeah Yeahs It’s Blitz!

[Interscope; 2009]

Rating: 2.5/5

Styles: synth-pop, dance-punk
Others: Franz Ferdinand, Madonna

It used to be that nearly all of punk and indie stood in direct opposition to disco and other dance musics. To be sure, some songs of the former two were danceable, but they were in spite of their stridency. These days, it seems like every indie band is adding synthesizers, polishing their sound, sanding down the edges. Some of these efforts are great (Animal Collective's Merriweather Post Pavilion); others just don't work (Franz Ferdinand's Tonight). On It's Blitz!, Yeah Yeah Yeahs have decided to forgo the fiery art-punk of Fever to Tell and Show Your Bones for a smoother dance-pop backing. Their draw was never the "art" or the "punk," but Karen O's sex appeal -- indie kids love her because she sounds like she's going to cum in the middle of a song.

Karen O will never be PJ Harvey or Liz Phair, largely because she's too interested in the act of sex and not enough in the contradictions it presents for modern women. Still, on older tracks like "Rich," "Y Control," "Gold Lion," and "Way Out," the strength of her passion was great enough to overcome her political inadequacies. Much of that seems to have been lost in It's Blitz!, and there's a sense of lifelessness that pervades a great deal of it.

The first half of the album is quick and oblique enough to work on headphones and the dancefloor, but the tempo slows afterwards. The only thing worse than uninspired dance-pop is slow, uninspired dance-pop, and the only place they overcome this is on "Runaway." It works because the song actually goes somewhere, slowly building from a plaintive piano introduction to a huge and dissonant finale.

It'd be easier to excuse the flaws of this album if it'd been released a short time after Show Your Bones -- like a worthwhile, if rushed, experiment in a new aesthetic. But they've had almost exactly three years between albums, which is quite a long time to have crafted a more lively record. From most bands, half of a great record would be an incredible accomplishment, but we've heard so much better from them.

1. Zero
2. Heads Will Roll
3. Soft Shock
4. Skeletons
5. Dull Life
6. Shame and Fortune
7. Runaway
8. Dragon Queen
9. Hysteric
10. Little Shadow

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