If you want to be strict about it, "Is Is" is not new material.
It was originally recorded waaaayyyyy back when the Yeah Yeah Yeahs were touring their debut album "Fever to Tell" for the very first time. So it's got the freshness of new material, with the gusto of their frenetic frenetic post-punk here -- it feels like you're going on a nighttime rampage with these guys.
It opens with the thumping intro of "Rockers to Swallow," a volcanic punk ode that seethes with screaming, roaring riffs and smashing drums. "Tell me we're rockers to swallow/Tell me we're knockers to bite/And out of the beats of tomorrow/Tell me what beat fills the night!" Karen O shouts in her raw voice.
It sounds like a a night out at a really dirty, crazy club, which makes "Down Boy" -- all grimy riffs and trembly keyboard -- sound like a breather. They extend their sound further with the driving rock'n'roll anthem "Kiss Kiss", which seems to be about a threesome ("We're three we're three in the dark tonight/And baby my snake is a shark tonight").
And finally "Is Is" winds up with two very dissimilar songs. First it's "Isis," a stately confection of ringing riffs and pulse-like percussion -- it's a good song, but it only breaks loose at the very end. And it finishes with "10x10," a blazing rocker with bubbling electronic edges.
"Is Is" was apparently recorded during a very tough, emotionally turbulent period in the band's history, back before they proved that they were here to stay. Maybe it's because they were touring, but "Is Is" sounds like a wild'n'crazy night out -- drugs, sex, fast driving and maybe smashing somebody with a guitar.
Most of the instrumentation is simple, even if the melodies aren't -- Nick Zinner sets the tone with guitars that twist, screech, loop on themselves, and smash ahead like a thunderstorm, while Brian Chase does some really dazzling jazzy drums as well as his usual smashing ones. A could songs even have some trembling, shivering keyboard.
In this EP, Karen O is... Karen O. What can I say? She has a voice that can scream raw howls at you, then turn into a torchy croon ("Down... down, boy, down!"). And she can sing the songs about dismembered lovers, seaslines and "rockers to swallow" with the rage or pensiveness they require, but always with gusto ("10 X 10, 3 X 3/Was the house that buried me/Did I really drown?").
"Is Is" is a richly rambunctious nugget of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs' solid post-punk, and it's about time we finally got to hear these great little songs. Definitely worth getting.