Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Yeah Yeah Yeahs – “Fever To Tell” (Polydor Records)


Remember that early interview? You know the one:

YYYs, “We’re gonna do the 1st LP ourselves & just see how it goes.”

Mmmmm.

Sold out?

Mmmmm.

Would Wichita have been able to afford the glossy warped picture disc vinyl edition?

Mmmmm.

Does it really fucking matter anyway (& if so, who too?) – after all – surely it’s the music that counts – isn’t it?

Mmmmm.

Glad you asked.

“Fever To Tell” is the debut LP by NYC’s YYYs. It’s 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 wasn’t 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 else’s 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 you’ll notice about “Fever To Tell” is that it’s trying very hard to show you it doesn’t give a fuck (whilst secretly harbouring every intention of establishing a career). In that sense, it’s very much an LP of 2 halves: where we’ve 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 they’re 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 O’s 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”, I’ll grant you, is a worthy slab of POP suss that would make many a Plastic Edna (e.g. – Shirley Manson) blush. It’s 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 don’t give a fuck – by the third chorus you’ve 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 don’t 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 else’s time. Is it?

If you feel you can place “Fever To Tell” next to “Plastic Letters”, “Cut” or “Dry”, let’s say, without fear of contamination, then you go right ahead. Me, I’ll 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 manager’s 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 don’t ever try & pretend it actually means anything.

Those days have gone.

Marquee Smith – 22/04/03
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