Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Is Is (Interscope)

The best Yeah Yeah Yeahs songs have always felt like a balling or a brawling — if not both. Since emerging in 2000, the serrated sleaze-rockin' trio of vamping singer Karen O, bassy guitarist Nick Zinner and primal drummer Brian Chase has gangbanged a catalog of turn-ons and fuck-offs. The band's new EP, Is Is, offers similarly brisk thrusts and song swatches to 2003's Fever to Tell. Is Is features five "new" studio tracks originally honed on tour and semi-documented on the 2004 performance DVD Tell Me What Rockers to Swallow. And as such it embodies the Yeah Yeah Yeahs' phantasms and orgasms: Throughout, Zinner's taut guitar babbles as if in the throes of both, and at its best ("Kiss Kiss," "Isis") it's a predator buffeting from all sides. Karen O punctuates the tension with exclamations that refrain from her usual tendency to leave little to the imagination. Much of the EP falls on Fever to Tell's squirrelly scrunches, but the spurts of spindly riffs throughout "Rockers to Swallow" and "10x10" are a formula that comes across thin. Is Is shows the feral potential the Yeah Yeah Yeahs used to have. As for what the band is now, its sound is a now-familiar phenom needing further evolution.

 
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