A quickie to tide fans over until the 2003 release of their full-length debut, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs' Machine is appropriately economical and efficient -- once again, the trio manages to cram more ideas and attitude into a few songs than most bands do in a full-length release. If possible, this three-track single is even more impressive than Yeah Yeah Yeahs, demonstrating both their ever-expanding range and their increasingly focused style. In the Yeah Yeah Yeahs' case, however, "focused" doesn't mean tamer -- if anything, "Machine" is even more ferocious and unhinged than the songs on their first EP, a complex and somewhat cryptic mix of anger and desperate lust that recalls the scary sexiness that PJ Harvey displayed on Rid of Me and 4-Track Demos. Nicolas Zinner's guitars and Brian Chase's drumming are still simple and streamlined, but display a new level of sophistication, while Karen O's snarling vocals span smooth, high notes and choppy growls. "Graveyard" adds a dash of shockabilly to this rougher, tougher sound, but the real deal is "Pin (Remix)," the most remarkable song of their young career, musically speaking: a spooky but beautiful mix of dreamy vocals synths and guitars looped and layered over a minimal beat, it's a ghostly expression of their punk attitude that rivals Sonic Youth's "Shadow of a Doubt" in its eerie loveliness. Like Yeah Yeah Yeahs, within Machine are traces of the sounds of lots of great underground groups -- bits of Siouxsie & the Banshees and Royal Trux, as well as Sonic Youth and PJ Harvey, can be heard in the fray this time -- without specifically aping them. As if it was necessary, Machine offers more proof that the Yeah Yeah Yeahs are very much in the lineage of New York's classic art punk groups, able to define as well as transcend the musical fashions of the moment.
AllMusic Review by Heather Phares