Seminal indie rock band Yeah Yeah Yeahs have kept a low profile since the 2009 release of their lauded junior album, “It’s Blitz!” But four years later, the punk-tinted triad is back with a new LP that makes an attempt at returning to the band’s roots.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ new release, “Mosquito,” takes a step back from the pop-centric path the group seemed to be heading down with monster singles like “Heads Will Roll” and “Zero.” Instead, they have come back to the punk genre while embracing the typical weirdness that has more or less defined the collective throughout their career. One needs to look no further than the album’s nightmarish artwork to deduce the latter.
“Mosquito” kicks off promisingly enough with “Sacrilege,” a seething jam that climaxes with the addition of a wailing gospel choir. The subsequent cut, “Subway,” acts as a recovery period from the intensity that fuels its predecessor. Lead singer Karen O’s murmured lyrics levitate above the sampling of a subway’s repetitive and hypnotizing click-clack.
Unfortunately, the remainder of “Mosquito” tends to get bogged down in its own partiality toward anything weird. The track “These Paths” takes the form of an interlude gone astray. The five-minute cut sits idly as synthesizer oscillations loop in and out, but in the end, it doesn’t go anywhere, and there is no trace of Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ vibrant character.
Flickers of life flare up from time to time, such as the tenacious guitar riff in “Area 52,” courtesy of Nick Zinner, the parts of “Buried Alive” that don’t feature Dr. Octagon and the orchestration behind “Wedding Song.”
Yeah Yeah Yeahs seem to have had a change of heart in terms of the pop proclivity they displayed as of late. All in all, “Mosquito” is a return to previous form, but some tinkering still awaits.
2 ½ stars