Yeah Yeah Yeahs Fever To Tell (Polydor Records)
Remember that early interview? You know the one:
YYYs, Were gonna do the 1st LP ourselves & just see how it goes.
Would Wichita have been able to afford the glossy warped picture disc vinyl edition?
Does it really fucking matter anyway (& if so, who too?) after all surely its the music that counts isnt it?
Glad you asked.
Fever To Tell is the debut LP by NYCs YYYs. Its on Polydor Records & should be easy enough to find in your local branch of HMVIRGIN MEGAWATTY.
The Yeah Yeah Yeahs used to make folk music until they realised there wasnt much chance (point) of (in) making it big in the folk world. Instead, they felt the power of rock n roll via 45 rpm records & decided to jump someone elses train destination: revolution (the spinning vinyl type).
The YYYs EP followed, & the world went suitably mad (including Dave at Italy Records). All the empty boxes on the checklist were ticked in the affirmative & the hype wagon was pulled from the garage & dusted down some (not that it needed cleaning).
A couple of UK visits, acres of heartfelt coverage in the serious music press (CTCL) & another 45, Machine, meant that the YYYs debut LP was always gonna be one of the most anticipated releases of the year (except for The Kills, for whom redundancy notices must surely be issued any day now). Anticipate no more:
The 1st thing youll notice about Fever To Tell is that its trying very hard to show you it doesnt give a fuck (whilst secretly harbouring every intention of establishing a career). In that sense, its very much an LP of 2 halves: where weve come from & where we wanna go next. Maybe the folks that dug where The YYYs came from would like to avert their eyes from where theyre going.
The current trend for losing a band member here & there was always an NYC thang anyway: The Cramps. The notion that a bass or a guitar light of a load is somehow more rock n roll than a full band has always been an interesting prospect: The Cramps. The fact that the YYYs could never be as vital as The Cramps is not really the YYYs fault is it?
Much has been made of Karen Os use of her sexuality, & it is refreshing to see a young predominantly male audience (The Loaded Generation) being taunted by their own sexual inadequacies (like any of them could ever hope to satisfy the lady in the spotlight!). Karen would most likely eat them from the rider at once & spit them all over the stage by the encore. In that respect, Miss O is vaguely threatening - & we like that.
This is how it breaks down:
Rich (spacey & effective), Date With The Night (fierce), Man (ends The Kills career in one song), Tick (OTT enough to be parody almost), Black Tongue (running light on ideas), Pin (the YYYs do pop) & Cold Light (formulaic & already waning) are all PJ Harvey eating The John Spencer Blues Explosion with nods to just about anyone sharp that ever picked up an electric guitar in anger. That said, the YYYs do make one hell of a racket for a guitar, some drums, a voice, a drum machine & a few itinerant new wave keyboards.
Fever To Tell pivots around track 8: No No No. It starts off much like all YYYs tunes before descending into what can only be described as a dub on the 3- minute mark. When I say dub, I mean dub like New Order meant dub when they recorded Turn The Heater On. Yeah, you got it, white boy dub. The kind of dub all my wiggas like to get down with. This mid voyage change of tack has been cited as genius in some quarters me, I just put it down to cover fire (I gotcha back Karen) issued whilst they sneak the unadulterated POP of Maps, Y Control & Modern Romance into the building.
Maps, Ill grant you, is a worthy slab of POP suss that would make many a Plastic Edna (e.g. Shirley Manson) blush. Its got that Hookey bass thang under-pinning it a lush romantic hook - & the best tune in the YYYs arsenal by some considerable distance. Y Control, meanwhile, walks right into Blondie - all absent minded like it dont give a fuck by the third chorus youve got Karen O sussed. Modern Romance draws the curtains (& shuts the cameras out) at the end of a long session of celebrity love making. Angus is smoking a post coital cigarette: Hey, babe. Why doncha write another song about me for the closer. You could maybe try a kind of VU style vibe.
It could happen.
Fever To Tell also continues the tedious practice of including a secret hidden track - between Modern Romance & the superb (worth the ticket alone, etc) bonus cut, Yeah! New York (B-side of Date With The Night). This untitled missive has been lauded elsewhere by the misunderstood & should therefore be studied with intent by those of you who really wanna know where the YYYs are off to next. Me, I dont care that much.
Fever To Tell says more about desperate times, desperate men & desperate record companies than it says about 2003. Rock n roll may be breathing again, but simply having fun up there your self is not really true justification for wasting everyone elses time. Is it?
If you feel you can place Fever To Tell next to Plastic Letters, Cut or Dry, lets say, without fear of contamination, then you go right ahead. Me, Ill just sit right here & tell it like it is: Fever To Tell is the sound of a band making that journey from the rehearsal room to bank managers weekend condo retreat & the noise you can hear in the background is the loose change falling onto the floor. Get involved, dig it, have fun why the hell not? just dont ever try & pretend it actually means anything.
Those days have gone.
Marquee Smith 22/04/03