It’s been 9-years since Mosquito, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ previous album, which continued to express musical growth, keeping to and elevating a sound akin to what we’ve known growing with the band. However, as we turn the bend and hit play on your musical devices, the past becomes the past. This new album, Cool It Down, is a personification of their greatness and history within the 2000s rock music scene that exploded in New York City, as they deliver excellence behind new sounds. It reflects growth, buoying new sounds that surpass expectations and leave you in a synth-fueled trance, where the mind gets tuned to the expansive layer you almost forget you may have just sat through the whole album. This symphonic experience makes you second guess your feelings about listening to it, as one may be too used to that esoteric synth beneath the rock aesthetic. It is the opposite. It echoes through your ear tunnels, creating rhythmic bliss that keeps you grounded in Karen O’s lyricism and vocals, as it beautifully emboldens the instrumentations beneath.
Like opening a box of fragrant pastries fresh out of the oven, the synths come at you with a direct punch of zeal that your ears and mind won’t forget, especially as you come to a close on a beautiful soliloquy that represents growth. “Mars,” like “Spitting Off The Edge of The World” and “Wolf,” are predominant moments that raise intrigue levels through a delicate layering of guitar, effect pedals, and varying synthesizers, which become central sonic themes as the tracks they finish and deliver have innate consistency. It makes the minor stumbles seen more like distant memories. Fortunately, the instrumental viscosity has these stumbles–more interesting orchestrations that shift from the norm relative to their identity–which in hindsight, are more performances that don’t necessarily work. “Lovebomb” does not work, compared to others. It’s ASMR-like, using simple words and colloquialisms to establish a mood without feeling overly multi-dimensional.
The explosion of sounds that hits you on Cool It Down doesn’t necessarily give you sentiments reflecting tonal semantics if told since one doesn’t “cool it down” listening to the album. “Burning” levies the atmosphere with a focus on layering harmonics from the backing vocals that amplify this colorful, ethereal feeling that replicates an electronically charged instrumentation that would kill in a theatre like Carnegie Melon. Like a few tracks on the album, it’s mystifying with its approach to making you feel a darkened bliss, mirroring the dark club vibe without perturbing you. Though that’s the greatness of the album, it has a steady cadence allowing it to flow with whether it has a mellower, more intimate pace, or something crisp and rejuvenating like “Maps” off their debut Forever To Tell. It’s not wild to say that, Cool It Down is the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ best work since their debut, though that bar isn’t exceedingly low. It’s a flurry of remarkable constructs that expands creatively; afterward, you’ll feel the need to keep it on repeat because its layers are out of this world, for lack of a better phrase.
As remarkable as the instrumentations are, the songwriting has its own complex, synergizing connectivity that keeps you from being flat-footed. It’s lyrically in tune with the atmospheric tones that shroud the final production. When “Different Today” begins to play, you get hit with a melodic force that invigorates the feeling you have when you’re with someone you love, almost like that sense where change revolves around growth. Like when this person is absent, that energizing feeling is lost, but that return has a livelier vibe. “Fleez” reinforces what I’ve been saying with the core aesthetic guiding you. The chorus and post-chorus contain these beautifully delivered lines that make you understand that feeling you’ve had listening. Karon O sings: “Fleez and me eating nuts in the leaves/That’s where we dance to ESG” and “Very moody, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah/(Very) Up, down and all around, baby,” respectively. It embodies a centralized sensation of blissful hope in the darkness; the rhythmic progression gives us something more than just the surface layer themes of growth. As Cool It Down closes, you leave with a rewarding experience worth a 9-year absence.
Cool It Down is magnificent. It’s something I won’t stop playing on repeat, especially with exuberant synths making it feel grander. I was almost left speechless, trying to find ways to find the words to say about how great it is, and I hope that translates to you. Let the synths take you to new worlds and allow the Yeah Yeah Yeahs to invigorate those tonal vibes that remedy you from the poor uses heard all year, like on Kid Cudi’s last album.