Monday, 3 October 2016

50 albums to take to my grave #41: It's Blitz

As this series approaches its conclusion, I was forced to consider something thanks to a question from MrsRobster: "What's the most recent album you're taking to your grave?" It was a good question and one I couldn't answer right away. Turns out it was Arcade Fire's 'Funeral' dating from 2005. And there it was - the glaring anomaly; nothing - NOTHING - from the last decade. So, starting today, the next few entries will be some more recent records I want to take with me - and this one is the party record.

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs could only come from New York, nowhere else could do them justice. They also have probably the best band name in the history of rock and roll. 'It's Blitz' was their third album. I'd followed them since the release of their self-titled debut EP in 2001. Since then, while I still took an interest in everything they released, I always felt a little let down by their albums. They never had quite the impact on me that debut had; that raw, scratchy garage noise fronted by the charismatic, slightly bonkers and curiously sexy Karen O had me in a whirl. I was a bit concerned initially when I heard Zero, the first single from 'Its Blitz', that they'd ditched the guitars completely and gone all electro-pop. But Zero was such a fantastically good song, I could let that slide. Then the album hit. And boy did it hit.

The thing is, Yeah Yeah Yeahs do disco better than most of those bands who thought it's what *they* did. Karen sounds completely in her element on 'It's Blitz', like she'd always been a mainstream pop star rather than a cult indie curiosity. Heads Will Roll is an absolute belter of a tune, glitzy and glamorous, but dark, loud and bewildering at the same time. Skeletons is a thing of beauty. The band is perhaps best known for the song (and Karen's literally tear-jerking performance in the video) Maps from their first album. Skeletons could be considered the Maps of 'It's Blitz', though it's actually way more than that. It is captivating, breathtaking even; a real high point in Yeah Yeah Yeahs' career. Dull Life is the only thing here that harks back to the band's garagey pedigree, but even its loud guitars have something of a glammy sheen to them that helps the song to blend in seamlessly with the electronic splendour of its surroundings.

If I have to pick one track though, it would be Hysteric. It's not as upbeat as Zero or Heads Will Roll, nor as quiet and moving as Skeletons, but it is a wonderful example of how far Yeah Yeah Yeahs had come from their early days. "You suddenly complete me," Karen sings with total sincerity. There's no doubt to me this song completes the album, a perfect blend of its pop sensibilities, its serene reflective interludes and a touch of the gritty edginess that ensured they kept in touch with their roots. Even though 'It's Blitz' came out in 2009, it still sounds more up to date than most stuff I've heard so far in 2016. And it has some of the best cover art ever; I LOVE that sleeve.

"Dance dance dance 'til you're dead." 'Til I'm dead? Fuck that, this record's coming with me - I'll be dancing long after I'm gone!

If you thought they were brilliant videos, you'd be right. But here's the absolutely astonishing visuals for Skeletons. If you don't gasp at its beauty, check your pulse - you're probably beyond hope.


  1. You have encouraged me to dig this one out and give it another listen. I must admit I was disappointed with it when it came out in comparison to the first two albums.

  2. I put some comments up at S-WC and Badger's place about this LP after thet had included 'Maps' in the 200 songs countdown.

    I'm with you on it being a great album although the way my blog was hounded after I'd posted positive reviews (and mp3 feeds) left a bitter taste.

    Amazing to think too that a song with as strange a title as 'Heads Will Roll' could produce two great bits of music more than 25 years apart.