Yeah Yeah Yeahs Return With Fiery New Album “Cool It Down”



The Yeah Yeah Yeahs (Brian Chase, Karen O, and Nick Zinner, left to right) pose in a promotion for their new album “Cool it Down.”

Ketevan Gallagher, Staff Writer

After nearly a decade, Yeah Yeah Yeahs released their latest album “Cool It Down” on Sept. 30. Indie rock darlings of the 2000s, they have toured with bands such as The Strokes and Girls Against Boys. Known for the lead singer Karen O’s eccentric fashion and energetic vocals, the band rocketed to rockstar status with the third single, “Maps,” from their debut album “Fever to Tell.” “Cool It Down” brings them back on the scene with a sound that’s become more refined, but still one hundred percent them.

“Spitting Off the Edge of the World” is the album’s first track, and also its first single. A collaboration with pop singer Perfume Genius, the song opens with an orchestra of synths that sounds almost all-encompassing. As soon as the vocals kick in, there is no question that this is the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. The lyrics discuss the climate crisis, but are lined with hope in the face of adversity. Karen O’s voice has a confidence that is unmistakable, and Perfume Genius adds backing vocals that tie the whole song together into a power ballad that hits you with its full force.

The second single off of the album, “Burning,” has the same commanding presence as “Spitting Off the Edge of the World,” but brings more urgency with electric guitar, courtesy of Nick Zinner. The complexity of overlapping choruses and guitars create a song where it’s clear every sound has a purpose, and was put there with intent. But behind the careful crafting of this song, there’s a freedom, where you can tell the band is exploring their sound, having fun with new melodies and techniques.

One of my personal favorites from this album was “Fleez,” a dance-punk track with rhythmic synth and electric guitar backing that kicks in with a surprising power. The chorus of the song has an infectious energy that perfectly displays what makes this album so compelling, and the electronic melodies are reminiscent of the glitter eyeshadow and technicolor outfits Karen O loves to perform in. Always in time with the rest of the track, Karen O’s voice is sarcastic, earnest, and playful all at once.

Karen O’s singing has changed since their last album, and some of the vocals on this album are more monotone. While there’s still endless emotion in her voice in songs such as “Wolf” and “Blacktop,” this new simplicity falls flat in the song “Lovebomb.”

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs have been shifting towards more electronic songs over the years, and if you’re a fan of some of their earlier songs, this album may take some getting used to. But “Cool it Down” is an album that slowly reveals itself, and with every new listen there’s something else to notice, some background synth that ties the track together that you’ll only notice on your second listen. And if you give it a chance, you’ll realize that while Yeah Yeah Yeahs may have created a more sophisticated sound, the energy and passion that makes them a beloved staple of indie rock is still there.