Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Show Your Bones
The Music Box's #18 album of 2006
First Appeared in The Music Box, May 2006, Volume 13, #5
Written by John Metzger
Making the transition from an indie act to a major label-backed outfit is a tricky proposition. Blinded by the fame and wealth that they potentially could accrue, some acts go soft. On the other hand, determined to prove that they deserve to be in the spotlight, some artists ripen into something even better. Such is the case with the New York-based, art-punk trio Yeah Yeah Yeahs. The band’s EPs didn’t do justice to its ambitions, and its overly hyped, full-length debut Fever to Tell was inconsistent and lacked coherence (at least from a music-oriented perspective). Yet, an examination of the full assemblage of its work makes it clear that the ensemble is on the verge of crafting something greater. Simply put, Show Your Bones is it.
There’s no question that, beneath the surface, Show Your Bones features many of the same characteristics that were highlighted on Fever to Tell. Equally true is the notion that Yeah Yeah Yeahs has toned down its feverishly quirky, indie-bred tendencies. While some undoubtedly will claim that, in doing so, the band has become a bit too self-conscious, they indisputably are mistaking the refinement of its attack for cold-hearted calculation. If anything, Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ so-called softer approach has the effect of sharpening its edges and boosting its emotional explosiveness. Karen O’s lyrics are as cryptic as ever, but when they are delivered with restraint and nuance — and the ensemble supports her by musically providing the missing pieces to her twisted puzzle — the material gains dimension and becomes more meaningful. When she sings about being "bigger than the sound" on Cheated Hearts, she undoubtedly is talking about the collective’s transcendence of itself.
Better still, Yeah Yeah Yeahs put its major-label budget to good use. Augmenting the onslaught of its bass-less trio with an array of textural accompaniments that include mood-enhancing keyboards and pop-imbued hand claps, the group revels in the dynamics made possible by its new environment. Frequently sounding as if Chrissie Hynde and Siouxsie Sioux had hijacked Jane’s Addiction and taken it on a new wave bender, the band juxtaposes acoustic and electric guitars on the melodic Gold Lion; it slathers the rap-propelled Phenomena in a hazy mechanical swirl; it delves into space-y atmospherics on the ominously stomping Fancy; and it rolls aqueous, shimmering, Cure-like streams of light over the hard-charging groove of Dudley. In the process, Show Your Bones proves that a convergence between artsy predilection and mainstream aspiration can yield magnificently positive results. Indeed, Yeah Yeah Yeahs has arrived.
Show Your Bones is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2006 The Music Box