Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Fever To Tell
(Dress Up / Interscope Records)
4 (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: Dec. 29, 2003
Review by Tony BonyataJust when you thought the world was saturated with enough noisy, stripped-down garage-rock bands, comes along an even noisier trio of Brooklynites that stands tall among the crowd.
Despite their patchwork of ripped threads, thickets of tumbleweed hair and goofy posing for both audiences and the press, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs - led by singer Karen O and joined by guitarist Nick Zinner and drummer Brian Chase - are actually much more than meets the eye. Melding '60s sleaze with an arthouse-punk mentality the heated sounds that spill from their debut album Fever To Tell turn out to be a hip, sexy ride through the seamy underground of New York City. Karen's powerful pipes prove to be a seductive menage-a-trois between P.J. Harvey, Patti Smith and Chrissie Hynde (with Siouxsie Sioux occasionally trying to KY herself into the pile), while Zinner's often menacing guitars sounds -which run from brutal back alley stabbings to grand orchestral dissonance - along with Chase's whip-crack beats add the finishing touches to one potent Molotov cocktail of an album. With a seediness that has a strange class all of its own, YYY's music is an interactive outsider art form that paints its listeners directly into their gauchely hued creation..
Although the bassless lineup of guitars and drums seems to be the rule these days rather than the exception (i.e. The White Stripes, Sleater-Kinney, The Black Keys and The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, among others) the Yeah Yeah Yeahs apply an effective less-is-more approach with the limited tools they've chosen to work with. From the new-wave guitar line that gives way to a bitch-slapping rhythm on the album's opener "Rich" to the snot-nosed, gargantuan blues stomp of "Man" to the valium-laced dream-world on the billowing "Maps," with Zinner constructing a six-string sonic barrier that keeps Karen's now ethereally voice from completely floating out of sight, this is an arousing collection of songs that screams attitude.
The Strokes may be the most celebrated hipsters from The Big Apple these days, but, make no mistake, these three artistic misfits are by far the coolest. Three cheers!
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