Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Runaway

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs are a trio of musicians from New York City that began playing music together way back in 2000. Karen O spearheads the group that also includes Nick Zinner on guitar and Brian Chase on drums. "It's Blitz" is their third full length album and was released in March 2009. It would eventually land a spot in the "Top 10 Albums of the Year" charts from various publications around the world. It would also receive a Grammy nomination for the Best Alternative Album of 2009.

The record opens with what would eventually become it's biggest single, "Zero". A song that to me seems to be at least a little bit inspirational with a dash of sex in a chorus that states:

"Your a zero, what's your name? No ones gonna ask you,
better find out where they want you to go.
Try and hit the spot, get to know it in the dark.
Get to know it whether your crying, crying, crying. Oh oh
You better climb, climb, climb.

I heard in an interview with the band where they state that this album would be best described as glam rock murder on the dance floor. The next track is the best example of that statement. "Heads Will Roll" is a wonderful mix of electronic synths and a driving guitar riff that literally makes you want to get up and dance. Plus the music video has a werewolf version of Michael Jackson dancing through the London underground. Well, until it goes berserk and kills everyone.

The following four tracks (Soft Shock, Skeletons, Dull Life and Shame & Fortune) showcase the growth of the group over their previous releases. They no longer pound out power chords, instead favouring a more melodic rhythm to carry the album. Deciding to showcase the actual range of musicianship over trying to get a hit single works beautifully. Then, just as it seems like they're about to revert to their old style with "Shame and Fortune", you get "Runaway".

I decided to upload "Runaway" to try and illustrate my point. Instead of making a Top 40 hit, the true musicianship shines through. A lonely piano is eventually joined by vocals, then an entire string section, and then finally the percussion section kicks in and we're off on a musical journey. I can't help but see a slow motion war montage in my minds eye as this song plays out. It seems to me that it would be the perfect track to fill the climactic battle in some sort of war/history film.

A lot of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs play list of songs are centred around love. "Dragon Queen" and Hysteric follow that theme. "Dragon Queen" however is more about heartbreak and dealing with that by going out partying to spite the ex-lover. "Hysteric" was a close second as far as uploading goes. This is probably their sweetest love song since "Maps". The chorus says it all:

"Flow sweetly, hang heavy.
You suddenly complete me.
You suddenly complete me."

The song "Little Shadow" closes out the album, and it took some digging to find out what the song was about. As it turns out, the shadow that is mentioned in the song was a cat the band used to have. That's right. They end the album with a song about a dead cat. Odd, but I like it.

I'll give the album a super strong 87/100 rating. This album has a strong orchestral sound that helps power the love song beauty better than any previous power chord ever could. 

Yeah Yeah Yeahs @ Kool Haus. Toronto ON, Canada. August 4th 2009

Also, they are the best act you will ever see live. Period.

Now go buy the album.


or the iTunes deluxe version, which has a few bonus tracks.

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