Yeah Yeah Yeahs / mosquito 12"
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There's a refrain you often hear about bands running on the sort of quick-burning demon energy that the Yeah Yeah Yeahs were channeling in the early part of the last decade: You had to be there. But on rare occasions, a band will make a record so thick with atmosphere that "being there" is just a matter of pushing play. Yeah Yeah Yeahs' 2003 debut, Fever to Tell, is one of those achievements: Even if you didn't make it to one of the infamous early New York shows and have the pleasure of getting your glasses sprinkled with the beery spit of a grinning, lipstick-smeared frontwoman in tattered Christian Joy, the record itself did a commendable job of bottling that experience. It was a debut that aced music's classic chemistry lesson: Combine a few unlikely, molten compounds, take a step back, and wait for the bang.
When they put out their second album, it seemed, at least at the time, like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs were growing up too fast. Show Your Bones favored songcraft over shambolic energy, and sounded disappointingly tame on the heels of Fever's maniacal night-sweats. (It was also the beginning of a creative schism in the band; as Zinner told Spin in 2006, "I didn't want to write and record in a studio... I just wanted to do demos on a four-track in somebody's apartment." He lost that argument.) But in the long run, Bones has aged remarkably well, and now feels like a pivotal moment in the band's arc, setting the tone for a career of evolution, reinvention, and constant forward motion; 2009’s excellent It's Blitz! was a record of glammy, neo-Blondie avant-pop, staying true to their quirks but successfully expanding their range.