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Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Cool It Down (Album Review)

Monday, 03 October 2022 Written by Jacob Brookman

Yeah Yeah Yeahs occupy a particular space in pop music. In the early 2000s they were at the forefront of the New York indie scene and, along with The Strokes and Interpol, were key players in a unique cultural moment that combined intellectualism, thrashy guitars and a kind of punk hedonism.

After nine years away, one might think that the group led by Karen O would be perfectly placed to capitalise on the current taste for nostalgia. Instead, they have presented ‘Cool it Down’, an enormously fresh-sounding album with some highly memorable tracks.

First among these is Spitting Off The Edge of the World, a synth-led space dirge featuring avant garde pop princeling Perfume Genius.

It’s a majestic sounding, if slightly nihilistic, ballad halfway between the epic cinemascapes of M83 and Yeah Yeah Yeahs' biggest hit, Maps. “Dark, dark places shall be none / She’s melting houses of gold...” O cryptically purrs. It’s exhilarating stuff.

Similarly exciting is Burning, with a melody line apparently pinched from the Four Tops’ Begging. It features that familiar Karen O feline yowl, and a return of Nick Zinner's signature scuzz guitar, which is more often subbed out for synths on this album. The homage to the older song is handled fairly well but after almost a decade of silence one might be forgiven for expecting more.

To the legions of longtime Yeah Yeah Yeahs fans, this album will likely land very nicely. It is familiar without pastiching their previous work, and middle age has calmed Karen O’s voice without diluting it. 

If there is a criticism of ‘Cool it Down’ it is, as it has been on previous records, the lack of absolute banger pop tunes. The songs here still feel like they were composed in a crowded garage or a damp practice room, not a Hollywood Hills modernist mansion with a grand piano. It gives the record more integrity than quality.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Thu October 06 2022 - LOS ANGELES California - Hollywood Bowl (USA)

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