Album Reviews

Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Cool It Down

(Secretly Canadian) UK release date: 30 September 2022

New York City trio’s first album in nine years brings stylistic change but they still sound magnificent

Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Cool It Down You’d be forgiven if you’d presumed that Yeah Yeah Yeahs had quietly decided to call it a day. It’s been nine years since their last album Mosquito, and with Karen O seemingly set on a solo career and Nick Zinner even joining new wave band The Rentals in 2018, it seemed as if the days of New York Cool were long behind us.

And yet, Cool It Down, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ fifth album is indeed upon us, and it’s quite a stylistic change for the trio. It’s their shortest album to date – just eight tracks, with a little over 30 minutes for a running time – and, as with Mosquito, there’s less emphasis on Zinner’s incendiary solos now, in favour of a smoother, synth led sheen.

When it kicks into gear though, they still sound magnificent. Spitting Off The Edge Of The World is a contender for single of the year, a big, huge majestic anthem about the climate crisis, with Karen O’s vitriolic denouncement of “cowards, bow your heads” and Perfume Genius‘ Mike Hadreas taking on the role of her perfect vocal foil. It’s big, languid and sounds ever so slightly portentous – appropriately so, given its subject matter.

Those missing the more punky side of Yeah Yeah Yeahs won’t be disappointed either. Fleez has a typically crunchy guitar solo from Zinner to introduce it, and has that same indefinable quality that made Heads Will Roll such a dancefloor filler. Burning is even better, featuring a clever interpolation of Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons‘ Beggin’, and a dramatic piano and string section that ramps up throughout the song in a very dramatic fashion.

TV On The Radio‘s Dave Sitek’s production is as excellent as you’d expect from him – Wolf is another big, enormous synth led number, and at times the album sounds close to cinematic. You can imagine the bittersweet Blacktop soundtracking an apocalyptic road movie at some point, while the atmospheric arrangement of Lovebomb sounds almost widescreen.

Best of all though, given the album’s brevity, there’s barely a minute wasted on Cool It Down. Even tracks that don’t seem to land first time, such as Different Today work their way into your brain in naggingly catchy fashion. Only the closing, spoken word Mars seems like a bit of an outlier, with Karen O reading a poem inspired by a conversation with her young son.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs are obviously never going to recapture the fiery intensity of Fever To Tell, but considering the length of their absence, it really does feel like they’ve never been away. It’s a different world, with different concerns, but Yeah Yeah Yeahs remain the perfect band to soundtrack it.

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