Yeah Yeah Yeahs
It's Blitz!

(Interscope)

The good news is that It's Blitz! marks a major recovery from Yeah Yeah Yeahs' brick of a last album, the deeply disappointing sophomore slouch Show Your Bones. The bad news is that, despite a handful of truly killer songs—a few as good as anything the band has yet done—the album doesn't quite live up to the consistent frenzy of debut Fever to Tell. Not that Karen O and gentlemen are even trying to recapture that record's youthful racket; title aside, It's Blitz! is a relatively relaxed record, about half of which consists of ballads. Its better half, though, is full of glitzy, discotheque-ready rock treated by multi-instrumentalist Nick Zinner with generous doses of drum machine and warm, buzzing synthesizers where previously there would have been mostly just squealing hot guitars.

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The album leads with a trio of such songs. On the rising, anthemic "Zero," Zinner provides bassy synth pulse, Brian Chase drums around skeletal programmed beats, and Karen O sounds as alluring and sharp as ever, her tuneful, elastic singing pierced by breathy vocal tics. "Heads Will Roll" is a perfectly charged disco bloodbath ("Heads will roll/On the floor"), whose chorus's triumphant, descending chord progression suggests that the track's working title could've been "This Is Not a PiL Song." "Soft Shock" cools things down a bit before the album dips into ballad territory with "Skeletons," the first of two five-minute-long downers (the other being "Runaway").

Between the two are the up-tempo hand-clapping and staccato melody of "Dull Life" and the long guitar dirgey build of "Shame and Fortune," which begs for some kind of explosive release, but just kind of riffs out and tapers off. Elsewhere, Karen O's vocals on "Dragon Queen" nod to Iggy Pop's narcotic, pub-crawling "Nightclubbing" over a steady backbeat and a twitching, wiry guitar line. Album closer "Little Shadow" sweetly douses the band's campfire and leaves a clean camp. The best of the album's back half by far, though, is "Hysteric," a swell "Maps" update (i.e., gorgeous balladry well fit for a dance floor approaching last call) full of twinkling guitar echoes, soft keys, and Karen O's heavenly sighs. So, a mixed album, but finally some damn fine singles again. recommended