December 21, 2009

albums of the decade (IX)

This is getting tedious. Surely I'm not going to keep this up for much longer. Let's call it a marathon.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Fever to Tell (Interscope, 2003)

I've never understood why this got such low ratings from so many critics. I think it has something to do with the sequencing. But it's never bothered me. The EPs that preceded Fever to Tell were wound tight and, its no great insight that the YYYs do their best work with a shorter format (see 2007's unrelenting Is Is, which is still the bands strongest showing to date). Fever to Tell had a lot of hype, but it really stands the test of time. Beneath its garage punk grit, what it really showcases are three incredibly talented musicians who don't necessarily gel with each other. There's tension between each componant and I think that's part of what makes the YYYs so captivating. "A Date With The Night" nearly self-desctructs, but the energy of Nick Zinner's guitar line is nearly schizophrenic. Karen O is, of course, the star of the show. From the coarse moans of "Rich" to her soaring vocals in "Maps," she truly is everything to everyone. If "Maps" verges on sentimentality, "Y Control" is its sobering remedy: a brutal guitar line, a bouncing rhythm and a Karen O who's not simply angry but despondent, bitter and utterly malevolent. Along with the noticably long (it's pretty much an epic for the YYYs), but all the more brilliant (despite its confusion) "No No No," the album's closer "Modern Romance" is slow, plodding meditation on a lack thereof.

I remember these guys being touted in nearly every issue of Spin from 2003-2005; they made the cover way too many times. You could tell the magazine was counting on these guys being "the next big thing." But this decade didn't really deliver in that regard. And it was pretty apparent in magazine racks across the country. Or if they did come along, it would be a remarkably short stay. A lot has changed since the early 90s and Spin has been in chaos ever since.

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