Listen Up: Wednesday, July 4, 2002
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Yeah Yeah Yeahs (Touch and Go Records)

By Matthew Smith

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, like the Strokes last year, currently wear the underground-sensation crown with all the glory and frustration such a label entails. That this debut, released earlier this year on another label, quickly sold out only added to the band’s allure: The group was easy to hear about but difficult to hear. Now re-released and easily available, the Yeahs’ five-song EP proves worth the wait.

Singer Karen O purrs and squeals suggestive innuendo against a canvas of sensual pop and hard rock. Her potty-mouth jive-talking in the bump-n-grind opener, “Bang,” sets the tone: “I need the real thing tonight,” she sings. Groaning “the bigger, the better” and making references to spitting and swallowing (and we don’t think she’s talking about mouthwash), Karen O tantalizes ever so. Such double-entendre sass is nothing new, but when Karen O delivers it — sincerely, honestly — we’re reminded again why we still love artful smut.

Formed in 2000, the Brooklyn, N.Y., trio treats that burning yearning we all have as just another part of the rock-with-abandon joyride — the Yeahs aren’t only about being puerile. Although Karen O captures most of the spotlight, guitarist Nick Zinner and drummer Brian Chase bang out enough primal wallop to help them all rise above novelty-band status. Their musical kick equals the heat of the tawdry bliss.

Sexy fun aside, the band’s music — from “Bang”’s jerky, push-pull rhythm and trippy fadeout to the barrel-roll guitar of “Mystery Girl” — is thrilling and dance-happy. Karen O’s declaration, “It’s our time, sweet baby, to break on through,” on “Our Time,” feels more prescient than boastful — it’s just there in her somber delivery — and she has the common sense to follow that line immediately with, “It’s the year to be hated.” Clever girl. Still, this c.d.’s sticky-sweet fun factor (btw: it’s a great driving soundtrack), and reports of the Yeahs’ awesome live shows whet the appetite for more, more, more.


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