The Bombastic Return of Musical Giants

The Bombastic Return of Musical Giants

Rebecca Caulton, Staff Writer

Released Sept. 30th, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ first studio album in nine years, “Cool It Down,” graces listeners with a track list full of synths and distorted guitars. A departure from their indie rock hits, such as “Heads Will Roll” from their 2009 album and “Maps” from their 2003 album, “Cool It Down” follows recent music trends of 80s nostalgia without feeling like something you have heard before.

The opening track, “Spitting Off the Edge of the World,” immediately sets the tone of the album with crashing dynamics and is a confident choice for the first song of the album. “Spitting Off the Edge of the World” feels like a song made for the big screen with lyrics revolving around teen rebellion and rebirth, and is sung bombastically by lead singer Karen O. Every song in the album feels unique from one another without feeling separate from the album. The next track in the album “Lovebomb” contrasts “Spitting Off the Edge of the World” with weepy lyrics such as “Stars, don’t fail me now” and slow cords on a synthesizer that add a sense of longing and desperation. As an electric bass player, “Fleez” and “Different Today” pop out to me for their catchy bass loops and funky rhythms. My only gripe with “Different Today” is that the lyrics, particularly in the chorus, feel repetitive and lack unique meaning. One of my favorite tracks of the album, “Burning” feels dramatic and orchestral with its use of tambourines, electric violin, and piano which remind me of the composition of a Florence + The Machine song.

A track I found less appealing was “Wolf” for the lackluster instrumentals without the charm of the electric guitar, as well as its uncomfortable lyrics such as “I’m lost and I’m lonely, I hunger for you only.” Arguably, the only redeeming part of “Wolf” is the entrance into and out of the chorus that utilizes a catchy synth melody, but to get through the verse to the chorus is a slog. The track “Blacktop” includes personal lyricism, but faced a similar problem of generic and indistinct instruments. Ending the album strongly, “Mars” feels like the perfect choice for a final track. “Mars” is composed of a spoken word poem where lead Karen O captures magic in her words with lines such as “No more shimmering path, just an orb hanging above, with all its heavenly fire” and includes lines about her relationship with her son.

Overall, “Cool It Down” is a showstopping revival of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. While part of me wishes the album had stuck more with their distinct 2000s alternative flare, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs manage to create their own unique take on 80s alternative dance music without feeling repetitive to other works. The album includes a diversity of songs such that each listener’s opinions will definitely differ greatly which is why I suggest any listener to give each song on the album a chance before ruling it out based on a single track.