Okay. It’s been a decade since Karen O, Brian Chase, and Nick Zinner parted ways. [But a 2022 reunion album is on the way!] Yet people are still covering “Maps” and the other day “Date with the Night” randomly showed up on arms day and…Man were they great.
And with only 5 albums and 4 EPs, their discography is easy to get and rank.
Let’s do this.
The band’s “last” album before their break-up. Sadly, it mostly didn’t work for me. It’s not a bad album—I don’t think YYYs are capable of that—but it’s also not a great one. And up to this point, every Yeah Yeah Yeahs album was an event.
I applaud the band for not saturating the market with output. They were very careful to release albums only every few years, and ensured each album was well-curated to contain only songs worthy of being part of an historic discography. Mosquito is their only misstep—and it was still better than most of the other albums that came out in 2013.
Key songs: Buried Alive, Sacrilege, title track.
The band’s second EP, also released before their first album. The title track is a monster.
LIVE SESSION EP (2006)
An iTunes concert. This band was (is?) incredible live.
IT’S BLITZ! (2009)
YYYs continue to mature as musicians, performers, and songwriters. They continue to evolve—or perhaps “devolve(?)”—moving from the clean 90s-style singles-driven work on Show Your Bones into an album with a decidedly New York ‘80s punk feel. It’s slick and sweet. It doesn’t work as well for me as some of their other stuff, but there’s still many great songs here.
YEAH YEAH YEAHS (2001)
The band’s debut EP hit #1 in the UK and announced the arrival of new sound. Five songs, three of them are still in frequent rotation for me: Bang, Mystery Girl, and Art Star. And the other two, Miles Away and Our Time, also get love from time to time. Great EP.
COOL IT DOWN (2022)
Their latest–and after almost a decade of nothing, they’re still awesome. Full review here.
IS IS (2007)
The names of the best songs on this EP tell the story: Down Boy, Rockers to Swallow, and Kiss Kiss. This is Karen O at her most sexually enraged, and harkens back to their earliest EP in terms of how raw and untethered it is. A wild ride of brilliance.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ second album, Show Your Bones, was released in March 2006, followed a year later by another EP, Is Is. The band has also released one video album, Tell Me What Rockers to Swallow, which features footage from a live performance and all of the band’s music videos through 2004. Yeah Yeah Yeahs released their third studio album, It’s Blitz!, in April 2009. The band’s fourth album, Mosquito, was released in April 2013 and became their highest-peaking album in the US to date, reaching number five on the Billboard 200.
FEVER TO TELL (2003)
YYYs got a deal with Interscope. And it didn’t slow them down. If anything, the more expensive studio production accentuated how muscular this band could be, but producer David Andrew Sitek wisely kept it gritty and all but one song clocks in under three minutes.
Key tracks: Date with the Night, Rich, Cold Light, Y Control and, of course, Maps.
SHOW YOUR BONES (2006)
The band’s second full-length record was a broad departure from the savage postpunk of their earlier work. The production is cleaner, the songs are more like songs (and less like screeds)…It feels very informed by the success of their monster hit “Maps” just three years earlier.
But they’re not sell-outs. Every song is fantastic. It’s one of my favorite albums ever.
Key cuts: Gold Lion, Cheated Hearts, Dudley, Phenomena, Warrior, Turn Into…They’re all great.