Quick Spins: Yeah Yeah Yeahs' “It's Blitz!”

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

By now you've probably heard that "It's Blitz!," the combustible, frequently tremendous new disc from art-rock all-stars the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, features almost no guitars. You may have also heard that Nick Zinner, the YYY's legendary axman, has been reduced to playing the synthesizer throughout, which is a little like releasing a ZZ Top album on which Billy Gibbons only plays the washboard.

"It's Blitz!" (already available digitally and slated for physical release March 31) actually contains guitars aplenty, though they're less assaultive than usual. Throughout, the band borrows heavily from TV on the Radio (a natural fit, since TVotR's Dave Sitek produces several tracks) and Joy Division, whose ability to turn synths into weaponized Vehicles of Sadness plays into the YYY's natural inclination toward stylized gloom.

The disc features an almost evenly split division of labor between club tracks and ballads, making it closer kin to the band's 2003 full-length debut, "Fever to Tell," than the scattershot follow-up, "Show Your Bones." The band has also harnessed its greatest weapon, previously yowly frontwoman Karen O, who now sounds -- not unpleasantly -- like an occasionally sleepy Gwen Stefani channeling Missing Persons' Dale Bozzio.

The disc's dance-floor tracks rattle from Missing Persons-inspired electro-disco ("Zero") to throwaway rave-ups ("Shame and Fortune") to synth pop ("Soft Shock") and all points in between. The lighters-aloft ballads have hooks and heart to spare: "Little Shadow" is slight and great, and the quivery, keyboard-heavy "Skeletons" is as close to a "Maps" sequel as "It's Blitz!" ever gets.

-- Allison Stewart

DOWNLOAD THESE: "Zero," "Hysteric," "Little Shadow"

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