Friday , October 19 2018
Home / Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Fever to Tell
Catching up with NYC's art-punkers. . .

Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Fever to Tell

Sometimes it just takes the right setting for music to kick in.
I bought the major label debut of New York’s Yeah Yeah Yeahs two months ago, but no matter how many times I played it in those early weeks, I couldn’t connect to its sound: too Siouxsie & the Creatures for me, perhaps (another cult fave whose appeal has long eluded me).

But on a whim, I grabbed the disc for a long highway drive recently – was feeling grumpy and I kept driving into blurry downpours – and from the first cut of Fever to Tell (Interscope), I thought: dang, but this fun! All of a sudden, the group’s darkish sound made sense. Many of the disc’s songs, I decided, sounded like something Iggy Pop might’ve written circa New Values: jaded, in-love-with-my-own-alienation uptempo rock that’s not as smart as it thinks it is but still has its moments. Singer Karen O has a range of voices that recalls new wave chanteuses like the aforementioned Siouxsie and Nina Hagen – though she’s also capable on a cut like “Map” of purring as provocatively as Chrissie Hynde.

The band’s songs mix flirty bragging with self-loathing misanthropy, sometimes within the same stanza, while the minimalist we’re-playing-late-at-night-in-the-studio instrumentation (drums by Brian Chase, guitars by Nick Zinner) sounds richer than you’d expect. May not hold up for the length of a full compact disc (when they start doing dub outros by track 8, that’s when I start wondering if they’ve run out of things to tell me), but it almost makes it.
Occasionally, Miz O’s vocal affectations can be a bit much (when she shriekingly imitates a ticking timebomb on “Tick,” for instance). But more often her perfectly pissed-off rock yowl is snuggly suited to lines like “I’ve got a man who makes me wanna kill” or “Boy, you’re just a stupid bitch, and, girl, you’re a great big dick!” Sure made sense to me riding through a thunderstorm, anyway.

I’m betting that this disc plays all over college radio: first single “Date with the Night” especially makes a great intro to the band, thanx to Chase’s gleefully frenetic drumming and Zinner’s rolling guitar lines. If I were still a disaffected liberal arts major, I’d sure wanna play Fever to Tell at a party – late, when you’re down to cheap beer and everyone else is too drunk to get up and change the disc. . .

About Bill Sherman

Bill Sherman is a Books editor for Blogcritics. With his lovely wife Rebecca Fox, he has co-authored a light-hearted fat acceptance romance entitled Measure By Measure.

Check Also

Concert Review: The Verve Pipe at the Tobin Center, San Antonio, September 12, 2018

The band performed some old favorites as well as new material for an enthusiastic crowd at the Carlos Alvarez Studio Theater.