In wake of the hurricane of hype that followed the landing of The Strokes, I did my best knee jerk reaction in 2002 and flat out dismissed the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. In fact, anything with a pair of ripped jeans and a NYC zip code got the preverbal Ricky Lake hand for a while. 2003 rolled around though and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs dropped their full-length debut, Fever to Tell. As the singles came by, one by one my resistance slowly but surely crumbled. One second hand pick-up later and I had what turned out to be one of the most uneven discs of the year in my collection. The singles were largely great: "Date With the Night" had a great ruckus energy, "Pin" was catchy like Gonorrhea minus the discharge, "Maps" was surprisingly effecting, and "Y Control" turned out to be the high point of Fever to Tell. Unfortunately, the album itself wasn't a clean sweep. Songs like "Yeah! New York" and "Tick" all lingered comfortably in the mediocre seating section.
Three years later now, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs have delivered their follow up, Show Your Bones. The album begins pleasantly enough with the lead off single, "Gold Lion," (The Optimo re-mix is better) which is standard mid-paced Yeah Yeah Yeahs with some nice guitar parts and catchy vocal lines (faux porno breathing included as ever). "Way Out" continues on a similar vibe andÃ¢â¬Â¦ actually, the majority of the album goes the same way. It's all largely mid-paced. The jaggy, frantic, "Hey guys, we like Teenage Jesus and the Jerks" moments of Fever to Tell are mostly absent. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, though I for one am all about the Lydia Lunch love. Show Your Bones is a more rounded effort, though a more subdued feel is definitely noticeable. The semi-abrasive ESG vibe was one of the things that made the band enjoyable in the first place though, especially when set against a background of faceless bastards with copies of Marquee Moon and high street Ramones t-shirts. However, when the music runs on such a static gradient - by comparison, at least - you're undoubtedly going to get a few boring songs, or fashion faux-pas in the Yeah Yeah Yeahs case. "Fancy" is a perfect example: a mediocre song to begin with, made dreadful by Karen O's insistence on deepthroating the mic on several occasions.
Production wise Show Your Bones is a lot cleaner and more polished than its predecessor. What's the music equivalent of Photo Shop? Synths pleasantly underlie the much more subdued vocals, providing an album that's more suited for home listening than their night on the tiles debut. Not to over stress the mid-paced thang, they still rock out in Yeah Yeah Yeahs fashion, this isn't Skynyrd. "DÃÂ©jÃÂ Vu" ("Can you sink ships with those pink thighs?"), "Cheating Hearts" and "Phenomena" all have great grooves. Just like with "Maps", they deliver one solitary tender song that turns out to be a definite album highlight, in this case it's "Warrior." I'd like to think Karen O was writing an ode to her favorite PlayStation 2 game, but probably not. Regardless of its origins, it's the one song on the album I find myself coming back to on a regular basis.
Aside from a few alterations to their sound, the band is still pretty much the same one you either loved or hated three years ago. They'll still appear in as many fashion magazines as music magazines and stupid girls and confused boys will continue to ape Karen O's style. Them are the breaks though.
7.5 / 10
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