Sunday, July 4, 2010

CD Review - YEAH YEAH YEAHS: IT’S BLITZ (Dress Ups / Modular)

Monday, April 06, 2009

Upon stepping out of the converted barn in upstate New York in which It’s Blitz was created, O and Co. must have known that a large section of fans, upon hearing it’s leaks and first single Zero, would let go an collective almighty ‘what?’ Initially it seems the only real difference is that instead of guitar parts, we have synthesizers treated to sound like guitars, but this is a record from a band very sure of themselves and at the peak of their songwriting powers. The production is summed up by the lyrics from Heads Will Roll: ‘dripping with alchemy…glitter over everything…you’re all chrome’. Producers Dave Sitek and Nick Launay let the synths breathe and stretch, and the resulting album is as tender and defiant as any the band has done.

It may be too off-putting for those cursorily looking for another Maps or Y Control, but there is a depth here it’s unlikely they could have got any other way than by putting the guitars down and building songs around O’s oblique poetry. From the shell-splitting cover to the fading feedback waves on Sigur Ros-esque final track Little Shadows, this is a remarkable record, particularly from a band formed under inspiration from the avant-punk scene of Ohio. Skeletons takes a Scottish pipe-band hymnal and turns it into a soundtrack for a slow-motion Replicant rebellion, it’s beautiful, suffusive and would never be made by The Faint. Overt pop moments like Dragon Queen and Heads Will Roll’s empty pleas to ‘dance ‘til your dead’ are more forgettable, and when they do return to their live-honed roots as on Dull Life it’s almost an offhand gesture that doesn’t quite fit, so compelling is this newfound gleam and so effective are the slower songs. Also must be noted that Brian Chase’s phenomenal abilities behind the drum kit are more muted on It’s Blitz.

When hearing songs like the gentle pulses of the politely emotive Hysteric (‘flow sweetly / hang heavy / you suddenly / complete me’) and opening track and single Zero it seems logical that Zinner would move beyond the heavily treated guitar he is so good at squeezing sustain and grainy texture from. The calmness and assurance that should accompany a change of pace and sound of an album is here in spades, confidence seems something O lives and breathes. Listen and listen again.

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