The Yeah Yeah Yeahs' debut album, Fever to Tell, has been released amidst a flurry of hype borne aloft by a punishing touring schedule, blistering live shows and a superb five-track EP. It also helps that singer Karen O is the most charismatic frontwoman since Deborah Harry or Kim Deal--stylish, confident, assertive and almost supernaturally cool. Not since fellow New Yorkers the Strokes debuted had expectations been so high for a new band, so it was perhaps inevitable that Fever to Tell would be bit of a disappointment.
But a disappointing debut is not necessarily a bad album. Fever to Tell is an energetic burst of indie noise rock (with guitar producer extraordinaire Alan Moulder at the dials, how could it be anything but?). Karen O pants, warbles and yelps her lyrics with unbridled enthusiasm and an in-your-face sexuality over guitarist Nick Zinner's Jon Spencer-inspired riffs and drummer Brian Chase's pounding backbeat (in contemporary artsy-garage-rock style, they've opted for no bass player). This simple line-up gives everything a raw, primal edge, reminiscent of their live shows (especially on the lolloping "Cold Light" and the frenzied single "Date with the Night"). It's just a shame that none of the tracks here are quite as good as those on their EP (none of which, bafflingly, are here). So, rather than having a sampling of catchy rock anthems (no "Miles Away", no "Our Time", no "Mystery Girl"), Fever to Tell is pretty much solid album tracks from start to finish. Granted, that's no bad thing (how many contemporary albums can really be listened to all the way from beginning to end?), but it does feel like unrealised potential. Fever to Tell is a good first album; hopefully, the second will be a great one. --Robert Burrow
This album is like casual sex: messy, with plenty of cheap thrills. But when you wake up in the morning you think "Did I really do that?" You ask yourself "Is this just a fling? Or is there anything here that will last?"
When the Yeah Yeah Yeahs stormed into the UK from New York last year, everybody cheered. In a so called rock revolution that largely consisted of the usual excess of testosterone and bad heavy metal they were a breath of fresh air. Their stripped down guitar/drums/vocal sound brought some much needed qualities like brevity, intelligence and even wit. Lead singer Karen O is exactly what you want from a rock heroine: feisty, rude, in control but out of control. On the current single "Date With The Night" she rips up the town like a female Godzilla on heat.
This debut album is louder and heavier than their brilliant 5 track CD of last year. There's no denying the impact of the sexy swamp metal of "Cold Light". Or the delirious confusion of "No No No", a track which highlights the bands refreshing ability to try different ideas. You can't imagine the likes of The Datsuns, God forbid, attempting a rock/reggae hybrid but the Yeahs have no problem with it.
But they seem a bit punch drunk with their own sound, and their image as rock animals. Too much of the early part of the album seems a superficial racket. It's only when they calm down and give us "Maps", a lovely power ballad, and the best track on the album, that they reveal their true potential.
There's nothing as good as "Bang" from that very first CD on this album. So I'm a little disappointed. I was hoping Fever To Tell would be a classic, but instead it's just promising. This is a great party record. But for the future, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs need to think a bit more and drink & rock out, a bit less. --Nick Reynolds
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Yeah Yeah Yeahs Fever To Tell [ECD] [PA]