Say what you will about Yeah Yeah Yeahs, but you can't deny they're consistent. For 13 years, the New York trio has been propelling their double-jointed brand of hyperventilating punk throbs and tender balladry without feeling the need to change tack. Even when they polish up a mainstream sheen, as they did with 2008's It's Blitz!, they're unable stray from their career-defining blueprint.
Despite this whiff of predictability, it's impossible to tire of Karen O and co. They retain the capacity to thrill, either through a barrage of stabbing guitars or the tear-stained laments that launch O into full seductive purr. While their mid-2000s contemporaries quickly lost the knack of kicking out a tune, Yeah Yeah Yeahs have continued to produce the goods.
It's no surprise then to find album number four, Mosquito, venturing down the same path as its predecessors. Throughout this 11-track affair, the band's grotty and occasionally indulgent motifs are in full swing, with discordant throttles like "Area 51" crashing against the cushioned canticle of "Wedding Song" and slumbering disco groove "These Paths."
For once, it's these nocturnal slow-burners that hog much of the limelight. These days O's aging intone appears more comfortable winding through the dark rumbling of "Slave" than buzzing (quite literally) across the title track's crotch-charged cranks. Her snug-fit delivery over "Buried Alive" serves greater purpose, ensuring Dr. Octagon's scattershot rhyming isn't misplaced in such unfamiliar territory.
In keeping with previous endeavors, moments of filler rear their head and the lithe beach acoustics of "Always" are a particularly rough ride. But the occasional lemon is made more palatable by Nick Zinner's wiry guitar and the swaying gospel harmonies that transform "Sacrilege" into an enthralling album high. For all their consistency, it's good to know Yeah Yeah Yeahs remain capable of pulling off the unexpected.
First published here for Under the Radar