ALBUM REVIEW: No No No to ‘Mosquito’

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First Posted: 4/15/2013 4:14:00 PM

With its attention-grabbing cover art and incendiary lead single, “Mosquito,” seemed well poised to be the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ big compromise: a fluid mix of their pop song instincts and their undeniable rock chops that haven’t been seen since the days of “Fever to Tell.” The result, however, isn’t anything like that. In fact, “Mosquito” is without question the single worst album the band has ever released.

“Mosquito’s” flaws are numerous, but the root of the band’s problem is actually quite simple: amidst the Yeahs’ excessive exploration of color and texture – no doubt wanting this album to have just as unique and distinctive an aural palette as all their previous full-lengths have – they neglected to tie any of these discoveries into any cohesive forms. From a production standpoint, “Mosquito’s” tracks are expansive and big-sounding in a way that their previous songs haven’t been, but rarely does this flex of stadium muscle seem to be backed by any sort of intention or motive; at its worse, “Mosquito” feels like a slapdash collection of songs for songs’ sake.

Just take the title track for example: although it’s flooded with tribal drumming (bringing back immediate echoes of …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead’s “Wasted State of Mind”) and a nice little chorus riff, Karen O’s lyrics are remarkably indistinctive: “Mosquito sing / Mosquito cry / Mosquito live / Mosquito die / Mosquito drink / Most anything / Whatever’s left / Mosquito scream,” all before launching into a chorus that consists of nothing but the line, “I’ll suck your blood!” It’s a weak metaphor, no matter how amusingly O manages to imitate a mosquito sound post-chorus. Only during the bridge does the imagery float around any sort of meaning (“They can see, but you can’t see them / So are you gonna let them in? / They’re hidin’ beneath your bed / Crawling between your legs / Sticking it in your vein / Were you itchin’ when they called your name?”), but even then, the song feels loose and unfocused in a way that previous Yeahs songs were not.

They very well could’ve taken the pop music mastercourse that was “Blitz!” and tossed it in the mud and wrestled around with it a bit, but the Yeahs’ curiosity ultimately got the better of them, and what we’re left with is an album that bears a lot of attributes with the creature it’s named after: it doesn’t follow a set path, makes a lot of noise in your ears, but it’s ultimately something you’ll want to swat away and get rid of because of just how badly it annoys you.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs ‘Mosquito’ Rating: W V