Easy to write off as opportunistic art rock scenesters a decade ago, New York trio Yeah Yeah Yeahs have achieved a rare feat in modern rock – they've survived the firework hype and improved with each album. This fourth release finds magnetic (and now peroxide blond) front woman Karen O, insouciantly cool guitarist Nick Zinner, and strong-silent type drummer Brian Chase ripping into a range of styles and genres with both abandon and real assurance. Sacrilege is an audacious opener, escalating from Zinner’s needling guitar work into a full-blown gospel meltdown with the Broadway Inspirational Voices waging battle with O’s own caterwauling exhortations. It’s a sign of the ambition at play here. O adds to her armoury of vocal tics, yelps and bestial moans with the agitated bzzzzt bzzzt of a mosquito on the title track which has some of the zest and fun of Tom Tom Club but she also does ethereal on Subway, a creepy, out-of-body experience on the uptown train lit by sickly neon. Yeah Yeah Yeahs' feel for sinuous rythms and deranged vocal effects is present on These Paths and the experimentation with dub reggae on Under The Earth is a very cool update of Blondie's own excursions down south thirty years ago. Area 52 may be an attempt to out-weird Area 51 but it's obvious nod to The Stooges and the schlocky sci-fi mannerisms make it Mosquito's least likeable song. The James Murphy produced Buried Alive is another highlight as rapper Kool Keith rampages across hyperventilating guitars and a depth charge of a bass line. Best of all though is Karen O's tensile, pent-up paean to sorrow on Despair, a song that proves Yeah Yeah Yeahs can still move you spiritually as well as just move you across the dancefloor.

Alan Corr