YEAH YEAH YEAHS Fever To Tell (Dress Up/Polydor)
Another talkin' New York band with the world's music press at their feet, at times it can be difficult to determine what, if anything, Yeah Yeah Yeahs offer over and above a kind of Patti Smith/P J Harvey/Strokes/Strikes amalgam. Spiky tunes? Check. Controversial frontwoman? Oh yes. Modishly lacking a bassist? Can't see one around here. Drummer who prefers playing jazz? Apparently so.
"Fever To Tell" is an album (a picture disc, in fact) of two sides, more so that any album recent memory can recall since Royal Trux's "Veterans Of Disorder". Side one offers seven short, sharp shocks of NYC art punk, pretty much, which do absolutely nothing for me whatsoever. Side two is a different kettle of cherries altogether. Brian Chase's jazz chops shine through on "No No No", with a percussion line that practically fills up the frequencies and melody all on its ownsome, and the track's space echo coda is like an underwater 2-Tone showcase. "Maps" offers more intricate percussion, unquestionably the album's greatest contribution to the world of tunes and gentle, pleading vocals. More like this would be good, showing Yeah Yeah Yeahs to be truly capable of being not as other bands, although an avant-garde Pretenders might run them pretty close. And then "Y Control" builds vast, "Joshua Tree" style landscapes from garage band machinery, which is pretty impressive.
There's potential here: it remains to be seen whether Yeah Yeah Yeahs will follow the experimental impulses that make the second half of "Fever To Tell" so interesting or capitulate to the shouty stuff that generates good copy and keeps the kids happy.