As New York millennial elite, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs have deviated far from the mic-felatio beginnings of their biting “Art Star” youth. Though they’ve never really lost their edge, or dropped the mic-felatio from their set lists, ever since Interscope scooped ‘em up in 2001, they’ve followed this album trajectory in which beast comes before burden. That is, they huff and puff on Side A and get sentimental on Side B. Beomsik Shimbe Shim‘s Garbage Pail Kids-esque, very punk rock image aside, the trio’s fourth effort, Mosquito, is so for not lack of a better phrase, a tricky beast. Karen O’s at the cryptic peak of her lyric powers, likening the title-track to a blood-sucking metaphor we’re still trying to wrap our heads around. And the band is experimenting with everything from roots-reggea to hip-hop. If there’s a thread that binds the record, it’s made of invisible yarn. Karen O explains this as “something for everyone.” A wee bit of a creative cop-out if you’re a fan of concepts. But nevertheless, the band is certainly growing. So go Mosquito’s 5 best lyrics that rear their head something beastly, or something burden.

 

Sacrilege

In the early days of this lead-off track, we were told it was the pinnacle of a recaptured “playful, Lo-Fi approach,” tapping the band’s garage revival tags way back in the day. It might be gritty, and cut without toys, but “Sacrilege” is one of the band’s most booming rock tracks to date, rife with Karen O’s scarousing megaphone howls, a 20-person choir and a broken hippie-dream, “Gimme Shelter”-era Stones vibe, all for the twisted glory of a sacrilegious lifestyle. It’s huge, smart and heaving. And there’s nothing like it on the rest of the record: [LISTEN]

Feathers in our bed
In our bed
In our bed
It’s sacrilege, sacrilege, sacrilege you say

Slave

As far as growing goes, this is the crowning achievement of Mosquito. Lacing all the best muscles of the band - Karen O’s punk-whore provocations, Nick Zinner’s angular guitar jabs and Brian Chase’s cult clattering – the beast’s breath hypnotizes here, a sadistic, self-depracting, acerbic A-side animal battling the age-old struggle between master and slave, showing a moment of cohesive clarity that abandons its fellow tracks after this: [LISTEN]

On my own
You keep me, you keep me
On the throne
Heads down all day
Come feed on your love

Subway

“Subway” actually appears following opener “Sacrilege.” So technically, it’s a break from the loose package the YYYs seem to follow, especially as its one of the most intimate songs Karen O has written. If you ask us, it should be on the second half of the record. But nevertheless, its the NYC burden homage the band should have written 10 years ago, Karen O turning the click-clack of an MTA track into a whispered, sexual mindfuck, freezing the inexplicable swell of an NYC heart in motion: [LISTEN]

It was metal on the mental
It was somethin’ in my heart
It was metal on the mental
Some somethin’ in my heart

Always

The first of a trio of heart-torchered anthems, riding the “Cheated Hearts,” “Maps” end-of-the-record anthems the YYYs do triumphantly, Karen O dubbed this “the engagement song.” Cutely preceding “Wedding Song,” dreamy synths dance with a distant island rhythm, as the calm punk attempts to get sentimental about that sweet moment between courtship and promise. Why it’s on a record called Mosquito is strange. It should have been paired with its following two songs, “Despair” and “The Wedding Song,” and broken off into an ep with “Subway.” But to love, and the refining balladeering of the band: [LISTEN]

Forget the time, forever mine
Impossibility is possible to me
To me and you, we’ll see it through

Wedding Song

This song’s arena reach is transparent, building like an Edge swell that should be bottled and sold to people looking for immediate catharsis. To start with “Sacrilege” and end with this is baffling. But the stakes are clearly love, and the poetry matches the arch, for the finest come down moment on a YYYs record to date: [LISTEN]

Some kind of violent bliss
Led me to love like this
One thousand deaths my dear
I’m dying without you here