Binge watching is the rage with the kids today, what with the Houses of Cards, Oranges are the News Blacks, Dares-Devil and what not. But I don’t think I’ve ever binge listened before now. I’ve discovered older bands with deep back catalogues before. But usually I’ll obsess over one album at a time before moving on to the next. Devouring the Yeah Yeah Yeahs discography over the space of a few days has given me a new way to look at a band and their career. I’m more aware of a band’s evolution than usual, and I like it. And now that I’m three records in as I cover It’s Blitz!, I love the direction that their evolution took.
The driving synth in the opening seconds of Zero is the kind of agenda setter that gets me pumped for an album and what’s to come. Never afraid of electronica, this is Yeah Yeah Yeahs embracing it more than anything on their previous two records, and I like it. Karen O is a singer who would have sounded great in the post punk, new wave 80s. But she’s a singer who sounds phenomenal in the new millennium when everything is post-post and neo-new.
Declaring, “heads will roll on the [dance] floor”, I have a feeling that Heads Will Roll is continuing the agenda setting. This is definitely more dancey than what I had come to think of as Yeah Yeah Yeahs and their sound. Yet it still perfectly fits Karen O’s voice and the band’s general attitude.
Where Fever to Tell and Show Your Bones specialised in short, sharp, kinetic bursts of almost dangerous energy, one look at the song lengths on It’s Blitz! shows nothing under three minutes and more than a few in the four and even five minute range. I don’t want to say it’s the sign of a band getting older, because that would sound like a negative. But I definitely think songs like Dull Life and Shame and Fortune are the sound of a band getting more mature, more confident. A band who trusts themselves and their fans to let a song grow and bend and take its time to get where it’s going. Instead of always throwing absolutely everything at the listener from the first bar of every track.
A band who can let a light piano and vulnerable vocals carry most of a song like Runaway. And when things do start to fill out, it’s one of the only times the word “lush” has come to mind when thinking about Yeah Yeah Yeahs. The pop aesthetic keeps on rolling with Dragon Queen and makes me realise that It’s Blitz! is a full blown new wave album. There’s no dabbling, it’s balls out of the bath committed to the sound and it works so much better than I ever would have thought if I’d heard this album described before listening to it.