With fourth album Mosquito just around the corner, it's time to take a look back at my favourite tracks from the New York trio. Upon listening to their punky eponymous EP of 2001, it was difficult to foresee Karen Orzolek, Nick Zinner and Brian Chase carving out a path as one of America's most chameleon-like rock groups. The fact that their name was taken from a Bikini Kill/Huggy Bear EP tells you all you need to know about their garage rock beginnings, but since then they've widened their sonic palette to incorporate a whole load of folky and electronica influences, a process which has produced more than a handful of alternative classics. Judging by the gospel choir who help to close out latest single 'Sacrilege', this musical evolution is set to continue.
3. 'Little Shadow' (Acoustic Version)
Included as a bonus track on the deluxe edition of It's Blitz!, this version strips away all of the original's bombast to reveal the simple beauty of the song underneath. Great credit must be given violinist Gillian Rivers, whose arrangement of the string section so wonderfully complements Karen O's never more delicate vocals. If you're looking for the band at their most moving, I would take this over 'Maps' every time.
While It's Blitz! didn't wholly succeed at giving the band a convincing electronic makeover, it did gift the world one of the decade's greatest slices of synth-fuelled pop. 'Zero' builds from a jittery opening into a pulsating disco monster, which is so unashamedly joyous it doesn't matter one iota that Nick Zinner's signature guitar squalls are nowhere to be seen. Even Karen O's nonsensical request that we "shake it like a ladder to the sun" sounds more than achievable.
1. 'Black Tongue'
Fever to Tell will always remain Yeah Yeah Yeahs' definitive statement. That's no slight on the two very fine records that followed, but neither had any hope of matching the debut's potency. At the centre of this punk rock masterpiece stands 'Black Tongue'. It's a thrilling summation of the trio's abilities, founded upon an incessant beat laid down by Chase and and wave upon wave of scuzzy distortion emanating from Zinner's Strat. Riding this tumult, Karen O is at her schizophrenic best, twitching between salacious yelping and deep, lurid intonations, before wrapping things up with a breathy gasp at the three minute mark.