wed 30/11/2022

Album: Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Cool It Down | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Cool It Down

Album: Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Cool It Down

A return even more triumphant than we dared hope from NYC's finest power trio

'An absolute joy of a record from start to end'

It’s a minor tragedy that Yeah Yeah Yeahs arrived just in time to be bundled in with a spurious “new rock revolution,” because they were so much more than rock. The Strokes, The White Stripes, The Libertines all may have had decent enough songs, but all were ultimately extremely trad rock, sonically living in mythical pasts.

But YYYs were anything but that: they were explosively in-the-now, perfectly able to use classic rock and punk tropes as tools but never beholden to them. Indeed they even sounded less retro than their more electronic NYC hipster contemporaries LCD Soundsystem. 

Not that the NME’s attempts at scene-building stymied YYYs or dimmed the appreciation from the people who did get what they were about and attended their electric shows. But it definitely didn’t help hold them and their uniqueness up in their best light, and one might wonder if it was part of what led to their momentum slowing on their third and fourth album, 2009’s Eighties-indebted It’s Blitz! and 2013’s somewhat sluggish Mosquito, and eventual hiatus shortly after the latter. 

But after a on-off period of occasional gigs, they are back, back, BACK. And good God, it’s hard to believe that this is a band who formed two decades ago and have been dormant for the best part of the second decade. Everything that made YYYs great is here, in spades, but with the brightness turned up. Butthole Surfers-style off-beam sludge riffs, trashy new wave shouting, fizzing synths, unashamed pop, hefty doses of blues, funk and gospel – all topped off with extra wit and sincerity from Karen O’s lyrics and delivery. 

Pick a song and something will leap out instantly. In “Different Today” it’s the jaunty synth that sounds like an electrical fault and the happy-sad hook of the chorus. In “Lovebomb” it’s the cosmic scale. In “Burning” it’s Karen O’s locking into the raw groove like no less than the late Betty Davis. In “Fleez” it’s the joy of knowing that they can do that Eighties synthpop thing a la It’s Blitz! but really inject it with that in-the-now energy. And on it goes – getting better with repeat listens. This is an absolute joy of a record from start to end, and a heartening reminder of how artists can successfully recover what made them great to start with.

@joemuggs

Hear "Spitting off the Edge of the World" with Perfume Genius:

Everything that made YYYs great is here, in spades, but with the brightness turned up

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Editor Rating: 
5
Average: 5 (1 vote)

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