With Is Is, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs have perfected their haphazard delivery. Part of what makes this band so captivating is their ability to sound as though each song might tear apart at the seams. The other part, of course, is the scary-sexual, guttural gymnastics of lead singer Karen O. Is Is creates a train wreck that doesn't quite become wreckage; instead, the trio accomplishes in five songs what most bands aspire to in 12. Opener "Rockers to Swallow" is a standout, rife with crunchy guitar riffs and nearly danceable drums. "Tell me what rockers to swallow / Tell me what knockers to bite," screams Karen O, a line as disturbing as it is appropriate. "Down Boy," by contrast, begins with an eerie xylophone intro. Sadly, "Kiss Kiss" lacks the live bootleg version's beginning with O screaming, "Someone get me another beer!" (Pity.) The primal drums and sparse, trilling guitar solos of "Hidden in Pieces" evoke the Velvet Underground's sinister S&M undertones, and final track "10X10" resembles the evenness of 2006's Show Your Bones more than 2003's raw, bleeding Fever to Tell. Karen O has scaled down the screeches, but maybe she wants to ensure she has a larynx ten years hence. Who could blame her?
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