Date with the Night
If I'm listening to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, it's usually when my wife is singing her favorite song included on Rock Band, "Maps," while I'm rocking the drums. I've always liked the song, and purchased the record soon after I heard the single in 2004. The album was also good but fell out of my rotation quickly, and as the years passed and the YYYs released more albums, I became increasingly uninterested. Everyone seems much more concerned with Karen O and her stage antics and what she's wearing than the band or the music. Instead of hearing their newest songs, I'm seeing Karen O on the latest cover of magazines like Spin or Nylon when passing the corner store. In short, I've always believed the Yeah Yeah Yeahs to be more style than substance. This along with what little I have heard from the latest album has made me all but give up on them. But the thing is, in revisiting their first album I realize all of that over-exposure has clouded my judgement.
Fever to Tell had me at Karen O's first bloodcurdling scream 45 seconds in to the first track, "Rich." I'll always have a soft spot for loud and abrasive vocals; being as I could never sing very well it became my primary role alongside guitar in all the bands I played in growing up -- the token screamer. Karen's got a helluva scream, and this shit rocks hard. "Rich" is followed by three more fast-paced tracks that rock no less before they finally tone it down a bit on "Black Tongue," where Karen trades guttural screams in for playfully, and even sexually, squealed "Uh-huhs." It's a lot of fun to hear Karen O's range, alternating from some of the more virile rock'n'roll tracks like "Date With the Night" and "Pin" to the softer "Maps" and feminine "Black Tongue."
After listening to Fever to Tell many times over the past couple of weeks I realize Karen O has always been the main attraction; the songs are built to showcase her persona. The groundwork was laid from the beginning for her to be the center of attention, but as the Yeah Yeah Yeahs have gained popularity and Karen O's status as a cultural icon has continued to increased, the quality of their music has continued to diminish. If you're like me and think the Yeah Yeah Yeahs have gotten worse with each passing album, do yourself a favor and go back and listen to their first; it will make you remember how much fun they were just a few years ago.