Yeah Yeah Yeahs are known exclusively for their rebellious, dark, and fiery personalities, as well as the upbeat, evocative tracks they deliver to their audiences so well, which makes them perfect to talk about on a holiday as terrifying as Halloween. Karen O is such a powerful force to be reckoned with, and it’s clear she doesn’t let anything stand in her path. It’s important to note her defiance and tenacious strength as well as her sensitivity and emotion in writing and performing these tracks, which is why, in the long run, the band has evolved and matured into something amazing over the years.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs have such an exhaustive discography, so to go through each one would make this post incredibly lengthy. Instead, I’ll just mention some of the outstanding tracks that made me love Yeah Yeah Yeahs in the first place! The first song I ever heard by this band was the amazing song “Maps” (come on, you saw that coming), and immediately I was hooked. That incessant, unrelenting guitar trill that marks the start of the song is absolutely genius, because it gives Karen O the ground she needs to stand on. Her voice is so wonderfully strange because of the fact that she’s not afraid to embrace her lower register, and doubly unafraid to let loose in the second half of the song. Although at times her voice can turn into faint shrieks and awkward gasps as if she is trying to keep up with demanding instrumentals, it still seems to work within the context of the song she is performing and takes away that aura of peculiarity. Their art-pop, rockabilly, garage-rock embraces also come out in the song “Date With The Night” and “Man” where the instrumentals provided by Nick Zinner and Brian Chase are the main showstoppers. These instrumentals, throughout the span of their albums, are rarely background, but rather piercing instruments in which more emotion bleeds out.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs are nothing if not versatile, which is why their transition to disco-punk in their album It’s Blitz! was taken well. Fever To Tell was basically just a warm up, with it’s often times loose construction and strange content, and now this album showed off a new, focused aesthetic that refused to back down. Karen O’s vocals are more matured here, and things seemed to have an aged intelligence that is clearly heard. That mindset didn’t push them back in the slightest, for this album was almost world’s better than their debut. Of course, there’s the single “Heads Will Roll,”as well as one of my favorites, “Dragon Queen” in the new disco-inspired beats shine through. Everything from the lyrics to the complex guitar parts in these two songs is perfection, and both never fail in providing ample emotion and intricate lyric construction. It’s because of how well things are organized that allows Yeah Yeah Yeahs to get away with an overall simple instrumental backing, and shows their skill as arrangers. “Runaway” shows off the slower, eerier side of O, and sounds delightfully creepy and grotesque, something that the band seems to embrace through their song titles and album artwork. Speaking of which, Mosquito was probably one of Yeah Yeah Yeah’s greatest conquests, and from the title track “Sacrilege,” its so obvious to hear. Another thing about Karen O is how blatantly direct she is with her target audience, as heard in “Mosquito,” while “These Paths” show off that heavily desired slower, more evocative pace instead of overwhelming with their aggressive instrumentals. Mosquito, as an album shows, most importantly, how much the band really has grown from the grainy, aggressive debut album they released ten years ago, and their maturity and confidence throughout it all, which makes Yeah Yeah Yeahs so iconic.