‘Despair’ is taken from the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s recent album Mosquito and commences with an a-cappella featuring Karen O at her most tender and emotive, both in terms of performance and lyrics “Don’t despair, you’re there, from beginning to middle to end”. Always ahead of the game in terms of aesthetic, she continues to be one of the most original and interesting front women in Rock n’ Roll and continues to drive the band forward. The a-cappella builds to a goosebump-inducing “the sun has gotta rise”, a fall to a whisper moment which makes you feel that an intro running to one minute fifty is not self-indulgence; it’s a necessity.
Just shy of two minutes, a signature Nick Zinner two note guitar riff ushers in a percussive beat and we’re transported to the art and sleaze of downtown New York City. The lead vocal builds in intensity, cleverly layered with pounding tom runs, Gretsch-like chordal splashes and a frenetic melodic riff literally dripping in effects leading to the refrain “My sun is your sun”.
The song’s beauty lies in its construct with production credits including James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem (another master of atmospherics) this is NYC music at it’s finest. As the refrain falls away, we’re left with the pounding rhythm and guitar soundscape to guide us back to zero. With a video shot on top of New York’s iconic Empire State Building with a blonde Karen O, YYY’s show they’re still as innovative and important as ever to music in 2013.