http://assets-s3.rollingstone.com/assets/images/album_review/8e7e1fffaff956c3e4a2e2c2f01e5b4f55c96a93.jpg Fever To Tell

Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Fever To Tell

Rolling Stone: star rating
Community: star rating
5 4 0
April 22, 2003

Karen O is one excitable girl. She's the lead singer of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, the guitar-drums-gal band whose debut full-length album, Fever to Tell, proves that the New York rock renaissance runs deeper and wilder than the Strokes. Show O a hottie, or just set her up with the tensile riffs that Nick Zinner on guitar and Brian Chase on drums sock out in unison, and she'll whoop and shriek and wail and pant in paroxysms of true-believer rock & roll. As she sings in "Black Tongue": "Uh huh, uh huh, uh huh, uh huh, ahhhh haaah!" Then she sings it again.

On two previous EPs, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs have already been through their self-conscious, obvious-influences phase and their arty-misstep phase. Now they just rock out, stripping New Wave and metal and rockabilly down to primal thrust and blare. There are half a dozen songs under three minutes on Fever to Tell, and they sound absolutely complete.

It's not roots rock. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs are closer to Siouxsie and the Banshees (but with a grin) and Led Zeppelin (but with estrogen) than to the blues, though they won't pass up a good lick wherever they find it. Zinner places his guitar parts like a knife thrower, hurling single notes that leave wide-open spaces. Then he plunges through the middle with power chords. All the while, O moans and struts, having a fine time with old rock poses but using them to reach for something true.

Desire and fury, irritation and loneliness course through the songs. "I got a man who makes me wanna kill," O half-brags in "Man." But she's not all bravado. By the end of the album, with the slow Velvet Underground drone of "Modern Romance," her sass deepens into something more bruised and wistful, as love escapes her once again. She steps out of the party-girl cartoon to show she has a heart.

Album Review Main Next


Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...


Sort by:
    Read More
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.


    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories

    “American Girl”

    Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers | 1976

    It turns out that a single with "American" in its title--recorded on the Fourth of July during the nation's Bicentennial, no less--can actually sell better in Britain. Coupled with the Heartbreakers' flair for Byrds jangle and Animals hooks, though, is Tom Petty's native-Florida drawl that keeps this classic grounded at home. Petty dispelled rumors that the song was about a suicidal student, explaining that the inspiration came from when he was 25 and used to salute the highway traffic outside his apartment window. "It sounded like the ocean to me," he recalled. "That was my ocean. My Malibu. Where I heard the waves crash, but it was just the cars going by."

    More Song Stories entries »