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Snap Judgment: Yeah Yeah Yeahs' 'It’s Blitz!'

February 23, 2009 |  4:50 pm

It was only a week ago that Yeah Yeah Yeahs fans were buzzing over “Zero,” the first single from the act's highly anticipated, exclamation-point-enhanced new album, "It’s Blitz!"

Loaded with swirling, colorful synthesizers that could have been lifted from a Little Boots song, “Zero” plays like the perfect soundtrack to a raucous, beer-fueled dance party, ultimately driven by a propulsive beat and singer Karen O’s signature yowl. And then bright and early this morning, the full-length album made its way onto the Internets, revealing a revitalized band -- one bouncing back from its contentious and far more eclectic sophomore effort, "Show Your Bones."

With "It’s Blitz!" not due to hit retailers until April 14 (!), the rumors of guitarist Nick Zinner all but abandoning his six-string for keyboards seem to have been greatly exaggerated. While analog synth sounds are everywhere, Zinner’s dexterous ax-slinging appears to be in ample evidence here.

But more than anything, the YYY’s new LP finds the trio taking their sound directly to the heart -- and the heart of the dance floor. A mission statement: “Dance 'til you’re dead / Off with your head!” Karen O howls on “Heads Will Roll,” another floor-mover that shares plenty of DNA (and melody) with New Order’s classic “Blue Monday.”

Dreamy romanticism marks numbers like the bouncy “Soft Shock” and “Hysteric,” but it’s with the sweet electro-ballad “Skeletons” that the band finally produces a worthy heir to their breakout single “Maps.” Yet fans of the caustic riot-blues that marked most of the YYY’s debut, "Fever to Tell," will be as disappointed with "It’s Blitz!" as they were with "Show Your Bones," as  the Yeah Yeah Yeahs are obviously not interested in revisiting their own past.

Instead, they’re making like Blondie, and seeing just how far they can stretch the boundaries of their sound without snapping.

-- Scott T. Sterling

Photo: Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Credit: EPA