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Let’s not underestimate the weird creaking raspy things Karen O is doing with her voice on that first build in “Zero,” the initial It’s Blitz! single and synthesized ’80s/aughts club-bait track from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Easy enough to go ad hominem and point out that this sort of ecstatic pulsating guitarless mournful thing is the preferred soundtrack in the more upscale and dimly lit places all three YYYs have likely spent the last bunch of years in. But there’s plenty of texture here, too: most of “Zero” comes from way back somewhere in Karen O’s throat; glossy it’s not, not after first listen anyway.
What else: I look forward to the various critical pretzels soon to be tied in service of getting from “Zero” (and “Heads Will Roll,” which employs a kind of Santos/DFA double-clap that’s sure to enrage all kinds of people who expect something a little grimmer from this band) to the more shimmery, guitar-audible baubles like “Skeletons” and “Hysteric.” (Mike Barthel knocked out “paced like a night out” on his first listen, so if you get time and a word count, that one ought to be off-limits; just saying.) My impression is that Zinner should get a lot of the credit for the heavy lifting on both of those latter tracks: he’s the one presumably responsible for all the gorgeous nostalgia-pressing vibrational buttons and that train-whistle kazoo breakdown in the middle of “Skeletons.” “Hysteric”‘s lovely too, although I imagine it without the chorus (pre-chorus?) and like it a little better.
Along the aging-rock-n-rollas to jaded disco to cabaret to fuzzy indigenous New York folk left-right continuum (“Dull Life,” “Dragon Queen,” “Runaway,” and “Little Shadow,” respectively, more or less anyway), I probably lean pretty hard towards the right side. They’re not so out of it to really fire up the LCD-era consensus uplifting sadness that made Sound of Silver such a citywide pick for soulful missed connections and all that. They still clearly want some club burn, too. Don’t we all…