Eagerly anticipated, New York trio the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ fourth studio effort comes in the form of the enigmatically titled ‘Mosquito’. The album artwork is a freakout in neon, yet is not at all indicative of the album it fronts; ‘Mosquito’ can at one moment reach peaks of tremendous, frenzied energy- such as in the title track-then in the next sink into a nadir of desolation.
Lead single ‘Sacrilege’ is full of gospel bombast and is a powerful opener, while ‘Subway’, on the other hand, is a sad and gritty ode to city, with its monotonous overlay of the sound of a train trundling across the track proving to be very evocative. ‘Slave’ is a terrific track and feature some of the YYYs most darkly poetic lyrics to date (it eats your soul/ like tears you fall/ my slave.) Zimmer’s strident guitar is as vicious as O’s vocals are tremulous and reserved- until the climax of the song, that is, when at which point she lets loose, spitting her words out as if they were poison.
‘These Paths’ resonates with an accumulation of barely-restrained vocal energy, but provides no cathartic release at its end as does ‘Slave’. The band miss an opportunity in the track listing here, as somewhat incongruously we then go right into ‘Area 52’, where the album goes off the rails a bit with a crazed synth-rock racket about an alien abduction or something equally weird. Ridiculous, true, but also great fun.
‘Buried Alive’ seems promising, but some regrettable sub-par rapping acts as the song’s bridge and is terribly out-of-place among the general feeling of Mosquito. ‘Always’ and especially ‘Despair’ are so skilfully arranged that they become painfully bittersweet, and create a sense of an ending that ‘Wedding Song’ concludes powerfully and beautifully.
‘Mosquito’ , in its range of emotion, is reflective of the very city that it is at once subject to and makes a subject of- it can be dazzling, soaring, larger-than-life, yet at the same time gritty, dark and infinitely morose. This sweeping spectrum of emotion is the album’s real strength, and so ‘Mosquito’ is best experienced as a whole because that is exactly what it is- an experience.