Friday, April 07, 2006

Yeah Yeah Yeah's / Show Your Bones 6.8

It's impossible not to hear the ghost of Fever to Tell on the Yeah Yeah Yeahs' follow-up, Show Your Bones

As someone once told me, nothing is impossible, not even a baby counting every grain of sand in the world in 1 second. And yes this did happen once. Look it up. France 1934. His name was Henri Turgeon and it was adorable.

A few weeks back a friend beckoned me over to his stereo wanting to play a song for me. Being the accommodating type I came right over. A familiar female voice breathed out of the speakers. I couldn't quite place the voice, though it was obviously someone i had heard in passing. "What is this?" I asked. "Its the new Avril Levigne, produced by the Matrix," he said. Makes sense I thought. It was super slick and sounded polished. It looked like she was making a leap for a more mainstream audience. I didn't question it. My friend snickered and said "Just kidding, its the new Yeah Yeah Yeah's."

I'd been had. But the moral of this sordid little tale, other than my friend delights in making me the fool, is that I was very ready to believe that it was indeed Avril. What am I getting at? Well, in short, after hearing the entirety of Show Your Bones, I can say it is pretty bad. As in 'I've waited 4 years for this???' bad. I couldn't hear the ghost of Fever to Tell on the album, but if its there I bet it is one of those wailing anguished ghosts that laments lost opportunities.

Karen O has toned down her presence considerably, rarely relying on the vocal tics that once seemed the equivalent of her famously ragtag glam fashion.

This is very true. But this is certainly not a good thing. Those strange squeaks and vocal surprises were one of the things that made YYY's so appealing. Those tics were another instrument the band had in its arsenal, an instrument unique to Karen O. Those tics are gone on Show Your Bones, replaced instead by almost straight down the middle vocals from Karen. She has a nice voice we discover, but I have a lot of other albums from rock bands fronted by pretty voiced front women. I liked the screeching and the yelps. The only time we get that here is when, in a move that is either very brave or completely bonkers, Karen copies LL Cool J's 'Phenomena'. I thought maybe someone had dropped something mind altering in my coffee when I heard it.

Still, on Show Your Bones the Yeah Yeah Yeahs occupy only one corner of the territory they claimed on Fever, walking confidently in their own footsteps but without claiming any new ground

Certainly this album is going to appeal to a wider audience and I have seen it top many a top seller list this week. But Deusner is right. It doesn't claim any new ground, and actually feels like a very big step backward. YYY's were one of the only over hyped class of '01-'02 to actually deliver. Fever to Tell remains a blast of fun energy. I liked the first full length far to much to give up on the band. There is a reason we have the term sophomore slump' in this culture. 2nd albums can be very tricky things. 6.8 is way too high on this one. It feels like a 3.5 or 4. Hopefully with this out of their system the train can be put back on its tracks and all will be as it should be. As it stands now it looks like Angus wins round one of the post breakup showdown.

PS: Why has no one had the idea of having Nick Nolte appear in a YYY video with his signature line from 48 Hours? "Yeah, yeah, yeah