Music Reviews
Show Your Bones

Yeah Yeah Yeahs Show Your Bones

(Interscope) Rating - 6/10

Karen O will be mentioned in this first sentence, if not as the first word (there we are), because I know you're thinking about her already. Maybe she's wearing tights, maybe she's wearing antlers, maybe her mouth is swallowing the world - clearly, she hoards the visuals tied to the YYY's. There is also a chance that your ego hates my ego for dictating your thoughts, because

a) Karen is as much of an element as Nick or Brian

b) You don't want me to be right, and consequently are trying not to think about how fantastically she gallivanted across the stage amidst Maps while she played your city last week.

Either way, we're all manipulative. The moral of the story is: the YYY's have been chased by a spotlight from the day they trudged their heels into the New York City music scene, and Karen, quite simply, is an icon. As I opened the Show Your Bones leaflet to the obligatory major label band photo, I found Karen sitting passively off-center on a rock and reckoned she finally must be (getting) over it. Clearly she's a few steps ahead of us, because I still want to see her swallow a microphone over a glass of beer (tm).

We are, after all, the public that ferociously ate up the gossip of the new album being about her pet cat. After three years of transcendental hype post the explosion of Fever to Tell, the media was jumping on any boat of YYY's rhetoric they could, first the cat, than the tag line 'folk', then in desperation, 'this album is really, really different from the last one'.

Obviously, Gold Lion was a raging touchstone by the time it poured onto the internet. It quickly became realized that the remix seemed more reminiscent of what we knew of the YYY's, if only for its disorder, the official track lagging behind with gapping spaces of production tidiness. While Fever to Tell was heavy and incisive, loaded with Zinner's notes scraping the strings like tin foil, the vacant holes in Gold Lion seemed ominously scrubbed clean.

The album often resonates similarly, certain tracks with paper doll production parameters that take spirited pieces of confetti and divide them by calculated measurements. Phenomena is hackneyed and rigid (LL Cool J considered or not), carried with detriment as Karen forces her ferocity into the contrived space she has always avoided. This tendency wades right into the first blinking seconds of Honeybear, where she pleas "turn yourself around/you weren't invited" like an art brutal lemming.

The chaos and erratic authenticity of Fever is occasionally reincarnate, namely in Way Out and especially the closing track, Turn Into. This end-post holds the album's most impulsive vivacity, leaving space for it to shoot off, explode, and trust that random trajectory. But mostly, the wandering fortitude of Fever seems to have consigned itself away. Zinner has lost the pinwheel tease of his guitar and Chase seems to keep echoing on with his shadowbox of knocks like nothing ever changed.

Karen however, is struggling to adapt like a wild rabbit living in a manufactured park land. By all arguments, her frivolity and angst has dissipated, her burning heart trying to find a dress that is equally captivating but less flamboyant. Her curve is noticeable, but in the moments that she embraces it, it's like opening a locket to the calm of her lascivious fury. Cheated Hearts and Dudley pour out with the same subtle discourse that made Maps so fragile, and in turn are two of the most auspicious tracks on the album.

As the amalgamated response to all the vectors stabbing at its hype, Show Your Bones doesn't come across with quite the nakedness it intended. At times it sounds forced, playing a battle in sound between resolute eyes and erratic tenacity. But repainting a house coloured in red lipstick is by no means a simple feat, especially in the wake of such a furious hurricane. Dancing with the scrapped drafts of its attempted manifestos, SYB is alive with a few gemstones that (thankfully) save it from trying to be Fever to Tell disguised as the new pink.