Yeah Yeah Yeahs - "Mosquito," ** stars out of five.
Karen O is kind of like Anthony Kiedis, the lead singer of the Red Hot Chili Peppers - she's best when singing about sex. Most of her inspired vocals come from singing about "pushing in the pin" or saying goofy-but-seductive things like "We're three, we're three in the dark tonight/ And baby my snake is a shark tonight, uh huh." But, again, like Kiedis, she's never been much of a songwriter in the traditional sense. She's a punk kid shouting things that may or may not make sense and when it's good, it's, well, like sex. But when it's bad, suddenly, there's nothing there and you start questioning why you were listening in the first place.
All you have to do is pop in "Fever to Tell," the band's first album, to remember why this group was once so exciting. That record is filled with blazing pop rock songs that sound just as fresh today as they did in 2003.
The Yeah Yeah Yeahs released their fourth LP, “Mosquito,” April 16.
"Mosquito," however, is a confused, back-to-basics effort that reveals the band really has no idea what to do these days. For the most part, they try slowing things down and going minimal and that just doesn't work with lyrics as vacuous as "With every breath I breathe/ I'm making history/ With your name on my lips/ The ages fall to bits." Those words come from "Wedding Song," which is like "Maps" part II but without the great hook.
Many of the songs are more atmospheric than anything and that's all fine and good until the band starts making bold, bad moves like including a rap in "Buried Alive" that feels more out of place than one in an R.E.M. song and doesn't have any artistic merit to boot.
There are a few decent tracks. "Sacrilege" is a nearly-epic single that only errs when the choir comes in (again, showing they were trying to fill gaps with anything they could think of). "Mosquito" is the kind of song we want from the band - a fast rocker with fun lyrics - and the song about riding the subway is kind of nice. But it's missing something (more details, more variety), like most of the album.
If this was an EP like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs classic "Is Is" from 2007, and the filler was squeezed out, maybe it would work. But as it is, the album's second half is so bad that I can't recommend it.
DOWNLOAD NOW: "Mosquito."
Daft Punk - "Get Lucky" ***** stars out of five.
Disco in the 21st century! Daft Punk's new hit is out of this world and one of the best songs I've heard in awhile.
Meat Puppets - "Rat Farm" ** stars out of five.
One of my favorite bands continues its wave of mediocrity by trudging through nearly indistinguishable tunes. Everything sounds nice - and that's the problem. The Meat Puppets are best when they're ridiculous and obnoxious and they're not much of either here.
Black Sabbath - "God is Dead?" **** stars out of five.
I was really expecting the metal gods' first music with Ozzy in 35 years to suck, but I was pleasantly surprised. "God is Dead?" is more than a respectable attempt at capturing old glory, it's actually some hard rock that makes me want to rock out.