Tracklist01. Gold Lion
02. Way Out
06. Cheated Hearts
09. The Sweets
11. Turn Into
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The Yeah Yeah Yeahs are back and they’re back with a new sound. In 2003, they released the critically acclaimed and sexy album Fever to Tell. The album comprised mainly of proper studio recordings of material released on their three previous EPs and up until this point has been a sort of “best of” album for them. Actually, it still is the best of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, as Show Your Bones is an incredibly disappointing and tepid album that brings nothing new to the rock scene and is just a slight reworking of their sound.
In their previous material, there was a fairly equal emphasis on Karen O’s brazen vocals and the bombardment of rock provided by Nick Zinner (guitar) and Brian Chase (drums). There was equilibrium between the three and rarely did one take over the other. On Show Your Bones, Karen O takes an undeniably larger role while Nick and Brian stand in the corner, shoulders slouching and hunched over their instruments, bored. There are moments where Nick and Brian step and up and show us what they’ve got, but they quickly slink back to where they were, wary of Karen’s menacing glare. While the songs are still “rock”, the instrumentation isn’t very varied and is quite boring. “Honeybear” is a shuffling, stomping song with Karen O’s voice sounding noticeably tired and especially whiny. The song opens strongly, with Karen singing “Turn yourself around, you weren’t invited/ good, good things happen in bad towns” with a tight guitar lick mimicking her, but quickly goes sour as Karen howls a rather uninspired line as the song quickly turns into a blues-y piece. “Cheated Hearts” is another song that starts out catchy and kind of neat, but quickly buries itself behind Karen’s strained vocals and the boring and uninspired instrumentation. “Dudley” seems like it would be a cool tune, what with it being a reworking of the lullabye “Momma’s Gonna Buy You A Mockingbird”, but again it is just lukewarm, with not much emphasis put into it at all.
That isn’t to say that the entire album is like this. There are three songs that still have “that” Yeah Yeah Yeahs sound. The opening track, “Gold Lion”, is more of a classic rock and roll song, ala Led Zeppelin or The Rolling Stones, with a simple, catchy drum beat, raw guitar work and Karen’s signature growling, howling vocals. The entire song works very well and is the showpiece of the album (perhaps that’s why it is also the first single). “Phenomena” is a dark, brooding song with thick, violent guitar riffs and hissing drums. “Something like a phenomena babe, you’re something like a phenomena” will get stuck in your head for weeks as Karen sings in a surprisingly seductive and alluring fashion. “Way Out” is a song that works for the most part, but trips over its own shoes a couple of times. Shy, shuffling drums, quick acoustic guitar work and some of Karen’s cleanest vocal work yet all work together to create a simple, catchy tune that falls to pieces during the chorus as Karen howls “Way out, way-e-ay-e out” which pulls you out of the groove of the song, but they quickly get their act back together and rock the fuck out.
Show Your Bones is a rare case of an album that sounds more like a freshman release than the freshman album does. Some of the songs sound very rushed and poorly recorded, while others are extremely tight and produced well. As a whole, the album is just fluff and uninspired, and doesn’t match up to the ferocity and volume of Fever to Tell. As of now, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs are dead.