Dance Til You’re Dead

While occasionally the greatest of gambles, retooling a band's sound can lead to deeply rewarding results. The best current example is the Yeah Yeah Yeahs new release, It's Blitz!, available online immediately.

Under most circumstances, a tonal shift in a band's entire sound is a signal of desperation. Perhaps they are past their prime, perhaps they aren't selling out the same venues they used to. But sometimes it's the sign of a truly restless creativity, one that informs a scorched earth policy toward their past success. It's certainly the more dangerous approach, but it can lead to brilliant rewards for faithful listeners (cf. Radiohead, circa 2000). Such is the case for the new Yeah Yeah Yeahs album, It's Blitz!

Gone are Nick Zinner's mercilessly screeching guitar, gone are Brian Chase's frenetic drum fills, but, strangely, it still feels like the same Yeah Yeah Yeahs. The attitude that propelled their first album, Fever to Tell, to nearly instant ubiquity is intact, and, if anything, Karen O.'s voice is more refined and suited to this bold new venture. Some will decry the almost total wash of synthesizers over the duration of the album, but this can easily be seen as a plus as it gives the band a fuller range of sounds and tools to experiment with in their quest to put feet on the floor. However, saying that the album is "experimental" is not really accurate. Granted, it's a departure of sorts for the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, but firing straight for the heart of New Wave dance pop is hardly a gamble in these deeply nostalgic, dance-friendly times. You will hit your mark.

The entire album was made available digitally yesterday on the band's site. While there, check out the super-fun video for album opener, "Zero." Linked below is the mildly darker second track, "Heads Will Roll," in which Karen O. assumes a Queen of Hearts brutality toward the dancefloor.

TMN Editor Erik Bryan is living the dream. He grew up in Florida, but he’s from all over. He likes playing chess, making cocktails, smarting off, and not freezing to death in Brooklyn, where he currently resides. More by Erik Bryan

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