Something was afoot when what looked like Bikini Kill successors signed to a major label and scored a hit ballad. Then fans complained the follow-up didn't rock enough, while others thought they were just getting started. Fast-forward past more rock, more ballads, very little Bikini Kill and a smattering of unexpected-yet-quite-natural synth pop. That leaves you with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs of today, the ostensibly free agents unleashing Mosquito on the public this week, with appearances from a gospel choir, James Murphy, Kool Keith (in Dr. Octagon mode, no less) and the steamy, squeaky ambiance of the New York subway system.
Few indie musicians have followed their muse like loop-pedal purveyor Nick Zinner (who once graced "Dream Tonight," a James Iha track) or frontwoman Karen O (called in by David Lynch to lead his musical debut with "Pinky's Dream," Trent Reznor to cover Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song" and Santigold for the sticky-pop "Go!"). Less-prolific drummer Brian Chase makes up for it by out-thundering Kool Keith on "Buried Alive." And all of them gave us the club classics "Zero" and "Heads Will Roll"; the seething rockers "Mosquito," "Tick" and "Mystery Girl"; and the astoundingly delicate "Hysteric" and "Cheated Hearts" and, yes, "Maps." Over 10 years the trio's name has become a motto: They've said yeah yeah yeah to everything they think they can do, and they try plenty more anyway. And usually succeed. Here are the highlights so far.