The Yeah Yeah Yeahs take a softer, more lyrical approach to their fifth studio album ‘Cool It Down,’ while still including a couple dance tracks to tie the project together.
The American indie rock band formed in New York City in 2000. The group is composed of vocalist and pianist Karen O, more formally known as Karen Lee Orzolek, guitarist and keyboardist Nick Zinner, and drummer Brian Chase. Debuting with their first album ‘Fever To Tell’ in 2003, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs amplified the resurgence of rock and began an innovative era, producing more LPs and dabbling in various alternative sub-genres. They continued their musical journey in 2006 with their second album ‘Show Your Bones’ and then released ‘It’s Blitz!’ in 2009. Their fourth album, Mosquito, came out in April 2013.
This new collection differentiates itself from their past music by creating a balance of soft poetic songs, passionate anthems and nifty tunes paired with hard-hitting lyrics.
Starting off with an absolute masterpiece “Spitting Off the Edge of the World,” we get a strong introduction to the LP and what it will make the listener feel; unstoppable, defiant, and like you are on “the Edge of the World.” In this song, Karen O and featured performer, Perfume Genius’, have their vocals dance together, weaving a cosmic web the listener cannot escape from. There is a use of cymbals and bells that echo softly creating a sonically ethereal experience. In contrast to this, “Spitting Off the Edge of The World” also features an amplified bass with loud pining synthesizers further expressing the song’s essence.
In addition, the few subdued ballads sprinkled into this collection keep the album dynamically interesting.The song “Blacktop” mixes a soft melody and pop-like drumbeat with aching verses and chants like the lyric repeated multiple times, “Hello, hold on ’til the love is gone.” This track conveys a feeling of sand slipping from your hands; desperately holding onto something that you know won’t last.
The eighth track, appropriately named “Mars,” sounds like a cosmic lullaby. The melody features a hypnotizing arpeggio that chimes, letting out waves of calmness and safety among the listener. In this song, Karen O trades her grungy and powerful voice for a spoken word piece, shifting this album’s vibe completely. We also hear this same spoken word concept in “Lovebomb,” which shows a new side to the band’s discography, demonstrating that they are able to abandon their poplike nature and look to push the limits of their alternative style.
Contrastingly, the group never fails to construct the most dance-fever inducing tunes, using Synth-pop elements to adhere to one of their most signature sounds. The song “Wolf” fires like a meteor hurtling through a universe of electronic echoes and willful synthesizers; the sounds of this song march fiercely. Then there’s also “Fleez,” an upbeat, pop song that engages groovy guitar riffs and drumbeat which create this song’s chic and sensational chorus.
Some tracks off of ‘Cool It Down’ illustrate the repetition of phrases, that in turn really pound in the song’s nuance and meaning. It allows for a new understanding of the piece, and encompasses your mind with the few words used. In “Different Today,” Karen O sings about how things are constantly changing and how you should not let fear or irrationality limit you. She conveys this message with only a few sentences, repeating over and over that she feels “different today” followed by how the world “goes on spinning.” I like this because I think it allows more room for interpretation on the listener’s end, while also perpetuating the original understanding of the song in a cohesive way.
Overall, ‘Cool It Down’ by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs is a bold yet alluring album, and without a doubt, one to be reckoned with.