Words by Matthew Osborne
Ask any adult film director, and they will tell you that the golden rule of ‘artistic expression’ is never blow your load in the first three minutes.
This inspired wisdom should have filtered into the higher echelons of artistic mediums, but either the news hasn’t seeped up as far as pop music yet, or Yeah Yeah Yeahs have chosen to ignore the advice.
Sacrilege, the album’s opener, is a load blower; a giant track with a fluid beat, that thrusts confidently for three minutes before delivering the money shot – which in this case is a smashing gospel choir.
However, as according to adult film makers, once the load has been blown there is nowhere to go. And Subway, a romanticisation of exchanged glances during the tedium of a metro journey, succeeds only in recreating the tedium of a metro journey without exchanging eye contact with anybody.
The eponymous Mosquito is simply awful pop-rock by numbers, with an overly-extended blood sucking metaphor that makes its point by the second line and goes no further. And by the time Under the Earth gets into its laboured groove, my interest in Mosquito, the album, has waned.
Although throughout the entire affair, fragments of songs do occasionally float into my consciousness and entertain me, briefly; a raw guitar line during Slave springs to mind… but I’m hard pushed to recollect another one. And I’m listening to the record as I write this.
The memorable standout moments come when Yeah Yeah Yeahs are insufferably bad.
The brattish scuzz rock of Area 52, with its awful UFO based lyrics, is the standout moment of the album. But the appearance of Dr Octagon delivering a rap over the otherwise meandering electonica of Buried Alive is up there too. The good doctor even manages to get the song’s engine running enough to pull it out of the quagmire it was languishing in, but his appearance is too bizarrely out of place to save the song from failure.
Mosquito is the sound of a band who got lucky off the back of a late seventies nostalgia movement ten years ago, trying to prove their artistic relevance – but coming up short time and time again.
I admit, I have never been a big fan of Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and always saw the band as a group of kids imitating their heroes.
And imitating them particularly well when a bunch of other people, some of whom owned record labels or worked for the music press, happened to feel the nostalgic pang of their youth and experienced a desire to recreate it. However now the nostalgia is for shoegaze, grunge and the nineties, with Yeah Yeah Yeahs‘ generation once more outmoded.
The best of the bands who, at the turn of the century in New York, were echoing the sound of their city twenty years prior – Interpol, The Strokes – are also now making fairly redundant records, but Yeah Yeah Yeahs have perhaps made the most redundant of them all.
Albeit with the exception of the first track, Sacrilege. So I guess they’re still good for a quickie.
Mosquito was released on April 12th 2013, through Interscope Records.
For more on Yeah Yeah Yeahs, visit http://www.yeahyeahyeahs.com