Mosquito is something between Fever To Tell and It's Blitz!, with an injection of soul. It's as aggressive as it is polished and artistically interesting. Karen O keeps saying it's the Yeah Yeah Yeahs' version of a soul record and she's exactly right. The sound makes sense for a band that's alternatively displayed swagger, sexuality, depression, aggression and a love for a good groove. Mosquito could be the most exciting package for all of those things.
Karen O is, as ever, a stunning vocalist. Whether she's cooing through “Subway,” yelping on “Mosquito” or nearly growling on parts of “Slave,” she's as emotionally charged as she is technically skilled, and it's always excellent when she completely loses herself.
Bass lines really stand out throughout the record, especially on the vaguely exotic-sounding “Under The Earth” and a heartbeat rhythm on “Wedding Song.” The guitar really stands out on “Area 52,” which features the heaviest riffs on the record and Karen O's desire to be taken by aliens, or be an alien. “Sacrilege” still stands out as a fantastic song, thanks in part to the gospel choir featured on the track. And speaking of features, James Murphy produced “Buried Alive,” which also features Kool Keith rapping as Dr. Octagon. It might be the most unexpected moment on the album.
The last two songs are emotional catharsis and, damn, Karen O gets back to the feeling we felt on “Maps.” “Despair” is constantly building show-stoppingly grand. It's hard to tell if Karen's feeling hopeful or depressed as she sings “Despair, you've always been there.” But there won't be a question of intent for “Wedding Song,” on which she's singing, “With every breath I breathe/ I'm making history/ With your name on my lips/ The ages fall to bits/ In flames I sleep soundly/ With angels around me/ I lay at your feet/ The breath that I breathe.” And the next time around, the same verse begins, “1000 deaths, my dear / I'd die without you here.” Oof.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs delivered something different from their past work once again, though Mosquito feels more like a collection of their strengths then a return to the drawing board. The one thing that definitely hasn't changed is that they made something that sounds like it could only be them.