It goes without saying that the world has changed since the Yeah Yeah Yeahs unleashed their feral debut album, Fever to Tell, in 2003. Written in the wake of of 9/11, it was a 37-minute adrenaline rush of post-punk you can dance to. The record cemented them as an integral part of the wave of guitar-heavy New York bands, such as The Strokes and Interpol, that rose to prominence at the start of the century.
Even now, they’re still considered a New York band, despite the city, its music, the band themselves, and the world around them continuing to change. The band went on hiatus shortly after releasing their third album Mosquito in 2013, though Karen O focused on releasing her solo work and contributing to film soundtracks, and became a mother for the first time. Meanwhile, Nick Zinner lent himself to film scores, while Brian Chase also became a parent.
On Friday, September 30th, the band will have returned with Cool It Down, their first album in nine years. It contains some of the group’s strongest material to date, and showcases what they’ve learned during their time apart as a group. Indeed, Cool It Down is expansive, ambitious, and eclectic, anchored by an overall anxiety not only about the environmental climate crisis — but its impact on humanity, the desire for human connection and intimacy, and how to make sense of a world that continues to burn.
If the band were ever nervous about the quality of their output following a nearly decade-long absence of new material, with the stakes higher than ever, it’s never apparent on this album. A raging confidence surges throughout Cool It Down, and the music showcases a band who older, wiser, more mature. It’s held together by the strength of Karen O’s lyrics, her signature voice, and the eclectic instrumentation that have made the band so loved. It’s also their most experimental effort yet, full of dramatic soundscapes that see the band push the boundaries of what it really means to be an alternative rock band in 2022.