Sound — 7
The Yeah Yeah Yeahs formed in 2000 when Karen O met Nick Zinner in a NYC bar, then shortly after forming the band the original drummer left and Karen's friend, Brian Chase, joined on drums to be the lineup we are familiar with. They very quickly began opening for larger acts such as The White Stripes and The Strokes, and released their first album in 2003. "Mosquito" is their fourth studio album and while it isn't definitely not the same as their first album you can hear their evolution from the band who released "Fever To Tell". "Mosquito" has 11 tracks and clocks in at a little over 47 minutes. The deluxe version comes with a few live and acoustic tracks from the album, but doesn't add any new songs. The album was originally posted in its entirety on YouTube on 04/02 along with a track by track interview with the band. The first single from the track was "Sacrilege" and was released on 02/25. The band has recently performed their single on the "Late Show with David Letterman" earlier this month. The biggest thing you'll notice about this release is the production quality has increased with each of their releases and may be skirting the line of sounding a little too polished for what is still considered garage rock in some circles. The overall sound/mood of the album is still definitely interesting and I find myself liking it more with each listen. I'm still surprised that they manage to sound so sonically robust with just three members (they tour with four members, with David Pajo having replaced Imaad Wasif as second guitarist for live performances). They mix in a little bit in the way of electronica/dance elements that haven't been as present in their past releases, but it comes across as being a pretty natural progression. It doesn't so much like their sound has changed as it sounds like they're adding new elements to their sound over time. I did get a kick out of "Dr. Octagon" being featured on the track "Buried Alive".
Lyrics — 8
Karen O has an interesting voice that really sounds like it was made for the genre she works in art/garage rock. Her vocal performance on the album can't really be called into question. There is a fair amount of vocal processing used on the album, but it is used for specific effects from song to song. There is some interesting backing vocals going on, but I'm not sure if it is Nick and Brian or someone else... Possibly Karen O is providing her own backing vocals on the album. I believe some of it may be created with some kind of harmonizing vocal effect. Either way, it goes a long way towards creating a certain ambience that the entire album rests in. There was a guest vocal by "Dr. Octagon" on the track "Buried Alive", which is the alter ego of rapper Kool Keith. The lyrics are pretty solid throughout the album, and sometimes even clever. From the title track, "Mosquito", here are some of the lyrics: "They can see you but you can't see them/ So are you gonna let them in? / They're hiding underneath your bed/ Crawling between your legs/ They're sticking it in your vein/ Were you itching when they called your name?". Then from the track "Slave" here is a sample of the lyrics: "It eats your soul/ Like tears, you fall/ My slave/ You steal, you heed the call/ My slave/ The keys, the keys are gone/ My slave/ You keep me beating on." After listening to the album I've found that there is a lot of recurring themes in the lyrics from song to song.
Overall Impression — 7
The bottom line is that this is a decent album and I've enjoyed listening to it, but it doesn't stand up to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs earliest releases to me. While they're coming to the process of recording new albums with more sophistication they are losing something in the transaction. I still enjoy the album, and it has grown on me a little more with each listen but I miss the rawness from "Fever To Tell" and "Show Your Bones". My favorite tracks from the album would have to be "Under The Earth", "Sacrilege", "Area 52" and "Buried Alive". My least favorite song on the album is probably "Slave", but I couldn't tell you why exactly, it just didn't grab me. There are moments when everything really clicks on this album... Quite a few of these moments... And that is what really makes this album worth listening to.