Brooklyn's Yeah Yeah Yeahs put themselves on the garage-nouveau
map with 2000's Master
retains the energy and flair of their former work, but brings in the depth of experience from a few years together as a band on tour: they're the same band, but a little tighter and more produced (thanks to sound-man/road warrior Dave Sitek). The opener, "Machine", begins with Karen O's desperate, P.J. Harvey-style plea ("Take the place of the snakes who ran") and explodes into something reminiscent of Bauhaus's "Dark Entries" mixed with the mood of The Damned's "Shadow of Love". "Graveyard" is a ninety second bluesy, hyperactive romp that eventually settles into the heaviest groove since Led Zeppelin's "Heartbreaker". "Pin Remix" shows the band's artsy, less traditional side (in other words, remix does not equal dance beat); it feeds loops from the original track into a process, whose results resemble a mangled and mushy reproduction that would fit nicely on the Warp label. Listeners in love with the gritty, raw nature of the YYYs' early sound (once described as the sound from a $39 boom box hanging on a hooker's windowsill) may be disappointed, as this is a more polished mix. The brittle treble-heavy assault is replaced with clarity, greater exploration of texture and more "professional" recording.
It is difficult to live under the shadow of hype and follow up with something as good as or better than your previous work, but the YYYs show that they can work effortlessly under this pressure. They also know how to sustain an audience's anticipation, as this single is a cock-tease, promising much but revealing nothing of the group's future (nothing here will appear on their upcoming album). I, for one, am counting the days until their full-length hits the streets in February.