The Yeah Yeah Yeahs have released their fifth studio album, ‘Cool It Down’ after an absence of nine years. There is a lot of nostalgia for the New York rock scene circa the early to late 2000s at the moment, probably as a result of the documentary ‘Meet Me In The Bathroom’ based on Lizzie Goodman’s book. That period, during which the Yeah Yeah Yeahs found fame is back in vogue – the Strokes are touring again and LCD Soundsystem have just dropped a new track too.
‘Cool It Down’ kicks off with the previously-released track ‘Spitting Off The Edge Of The World’ which features Perfume Genius. The song screams out of the starting blocks, with grungy guitars, dripping feedback all of which is swathed in Karen O’s soaring vocals, perfectly complemented by those of Hadreas. The track builds and builds to a perfect drop and firmly transports the Yeah Yeah Yeahs from the noughties to the twenties.
‘Lovebomb’ is synth-heavy with Karen O intoning the lyrics, it’s soothing and spiritual and has the concept of oneness with the universe as its basis “time time, time time, time time, time time, Stars, don’t fail me now” she sings. ‘Burning‘ is about the fires that threatened Los Angeles in 2020. “What you gonna do? What you gonna do” she intones as she references the River Styx, the mythical boundary between Earth and the Underworld.
On ‘Different Today’ the vocals initially sound like they are being delivered via a gramophone and are somewhat reminiscent of those “other” twenties – the 1920s. But the band soon kicks in and the heady beat transports the song into contemporaneous territory as Karen O sings about how “The world keeps on spinnin’ / It goes out of control”. ‘Fleez’ continues the nostalgic thread that runs through this album with the band referencing and name-checking ESG‘s ‘Very Moody’ and Nick Zinner’s crunchy and edgy guitars giving the song a menacing feel.
With this album, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs are clearly stating their concern about climate change. It isn’t a polemic but the songs, which lurch from full onslaught rock with flailing guitars to tender ballads all have the theme of the beauty and fragility of our planet and despair at its destruction at their core. This is combined with a nostalgia for a perhaps, more carefree past that infuses the album with a knowing sadness.
For a lot of the songs on this record, we’re giving voice to the feelings I want to hear reflected back to me in music. It’s confrontational, and it’s emotional, and it’s addressing things that nobody wants to look at. As an artist, there’s a responsibility to do that. I know when I feel that reflected back to me, I’m so grateful, because it makes me feel less crazy and less alone in the world. That’s where music reigns. This record was a chance for us to use that superpower. This record feels like it has a different kind of urgency.Karen O
A portion of the sales from the vinyl edition of ‘Cool It Down’ will go to the environmental law charity Client Earth.
Stream or buy ‘Cool It Down’ HERE.
COOL IT DOWN TRACKLIST
- Spitting Off the Edge of the World feat. Perfume Genius
- Different Today