Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Master – Review

Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Master (Shifty)
by Morgan Coe

The title for this review was going to be “NYC Three-Piece Plays Puzzling Neo-Garage Pop; World Stifles Yawn.” However, despite their name and bassless trio lineup, Yeah Yeah Yeahs aren’t the strict ’60s revivalists you might expect. “Bang” gets this five-song EP off to a strong start with a Gang Of Four-meets-“My Sharona” feel, “Mystery Girl” sounds like a smoother Bikini Kill, “Miles Away” could almost be X without John Doe, and “Our Time” is basically a rewrite of “Crimson and Clover.” They even bring in a keyboard and backwards masking machine for one outro. So Yeah Yeah Yeahs have a little more to offer than the usual we-traded-in-our-bass-player-for-Flat-Duo-Jets-records garage rock party line. And that’s good, right? Well, no….

The problem with this record is that somewhere along the way, Yeah Yeah Yeahs forgot to rock. On one level, this is a musical issue: The drummer is a jazz guy and gets drowned out by the guitar and vocals, even on the quiet parts. He pulls off some interesting breaks, but no one (aside from record reviewers) listens to songs with lyrics like “What I need is the real thing / Yeah, I need the real thing tonight / The bigger, the better / Bang, bang, bang!” to groove on the occasional snare syncopation or clever kick drum accent. And I’m not even going to start on the ludicrous grindcore-lite they try to pull off on “Art Star.” “Art Star,” coincidentally, leads us to the crux of Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ schizophrenia: They devote an entire song to making fun of pretentious art gallery types, but in spite of their occasionally raunchy lyrics and (post)modern primitive guitar sound, they are, essentially, a pretentious art gallery type of band – the perfect soundtrack to a 2:00 am Brooklyn loft party full of horny twenty-somethings all sweaty and wound up from a long evening of art openings and expensive mixed drinks.