Album Reviews

Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Fever To Tell

(Polydor) UK release date: 28 April 2003

Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Fever To Tell Crashing down amid rave reviews, Fever To Tell is the first full-length album from New York outfit the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. You have undoubtedly heard of them, be it for their so-good-it’s-obvious name or the fact that they are the latest band to have the dubious honour of being babes of the NME.

Since the release of two experimental and raw EPs, the question has been whether or not the Yeah Yeah Yeahs can outlive their massive hype and create something altogether more substantial and (dare I say it) accessible.

Fever To Tell, thankfully, is a special creature. The early praise lavished on the Yeah Yeah Yeahs has been rolled up into a hot ball of sexual energy and blasted out with gusto. Throughout the album, lead singer Karen O proves time and time over why she has been compared to the Deborah Harrys and Kim Deals of the scene. She is indeed rock and roll’s first credible pin-up girl of the 21 century, combining edgy lyrics, raw vocal stylings and an obscenely cutting-edge sense of fashion.

However the band and their album are more than a stylish image – Fever To Tell takes the listener on an aggressive, uncompromising journey through the New York alternative scene, leaving bands like The Strokes looking like the pampered toffs they really are.

Tracks regularly clock in at under three minutes, evidence that the Yeah Yeah Yeahs measure their music by older values, likening their sound to ’80s punk over anything recent. To this end, Fever To Tell offers us fresh, if not entirely original, music.

Opening track Rich combines Karen O’s dynamic vocals with an infectious rhythm section, and is followed brilliantly by recent single Date With The Night. Through a wicked concoction of devilish high-hats, unrelenting guitar and rabid stylings from Karen O, this recent single is testament to the aural drug the Yeah Yeah Yeahs can be.

Tick belongs to another century entirely with it’s maniacal punkness, while Black Tongue drags you to the dark corner of an incestuous house, and keeps you there with unrelenting drumming and lyrical mockery (“Boy you’re just a stupid bitch / And girl you’re just a no-good dick / We’re gonna keep it in the family”).Pin meanwhile seems to betray one of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ influences as the Pixies, with a hard-soft dynamic that Frank Black himself would be proud of.

Fever To Tell, however, is no one-trick horse, and tracks such as Maps demonstrate that the band are more than able to alter the pace and tug at heart strings (“Wait, they don’t love you like I love you”). Moreover, album climax Modern Romance is reminiscent of Pink Floyd than anything else, droning a subdued end to proceedings that have been raw, feverish and highly entertaining.

The stripped-stylings are as rich a sound as you will find in any album this year. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs have taken-off from their experimental efforts of old and struck gold with a more direct attitude. Fever To Tell is a collection of brashly unforgettable music, which, at its heart, is genuinely good, and genuinely worth getting excited about.

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