Thursday, March 12, 2009

Yeah Yeah Yeahs' Grounded Rock-Star Fantasies

By Evan Rytlewski
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All songs should be fast or sad, Rob Sheffield astutely opined. The best Yeah Yeah Yeahs songs are both. Since Karen O completed her transformation from rock-revival cartoon to bleeding-heart human on 2006's Show Your Bones, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs have become an unabashedly sentimental group, but without sacrificing the escapist air that made them such a note-perfect rock band.

Their latest single, "Zero," thrives on this balance. It's a flight of fantasy for the down to earth.

"I'm trying to live out a rock star fantasy of what I'd want to look and act like with this record," Karen O said of the song's video in ­a Pitchfork interview yesterday. "Like, I've always wanted a leather jacket like Michael Jackson's in "Thriller" since I was a kid."

Karen O's vision of rock-star glamor is endearingly affordable. Any film student with a couple hundred bucks could likely recreate the video; all they'd need is a cool leather jacket and a used car to dance on top of (it's not like Karen O smashes the windows or anything). In the video's thriftiest scene, Karen O trots through the aisle of a corner store, jubilant as an extra in the "Been Caught Stealing" video, while the store's lights flick on and off, creating a strobe effect. This was not a Michael Mann production.


Zero - Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Most of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs' new album is as grounded as its single. Though its been three years since Show Your Bones, It's Blitz doesn't seem particularly labored, even with the extra coats of synths and electronics and the ever-growing emphasis on ballads. These songs seem spontaneous and sincere, and though most don't immediately stun like, say, a TV on the Radio brain-twister might, they ultimately connect in a way more academic rock can't.  Like Show Your Bones, It's Blitz has heart to spare.

The album is available now for digital purchase; thrifty consumers can stream it for free on the Yeah Yeah Yeah's Myspace page
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