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Yeah Yeah Yeah's Fever To Tell is 20 years old.

The New York trio's iconic debut LP, released in 2003, is a critical and commercial triumph from a band in control of their destiny.

 
Cover of Fever To Tell by Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Cover of Fever To Tell. Interscope Records, Cody Critcheloe.

Back in the early 2000s we didn't know there was a New York guitar based art punk, garage rock scene going on. Sure we knew The Strokes, The Kills, Interpol and Yeah Yeah Yeahs were all happening, but sometimes you need the perspective of passing time to see what was really going on. And a handy tome such as Lizzie Goodman's 2017 scene guide Meet Me In The Bathroom.


And that's why it's worth celebrating the 20th anniversary of Fever To Tell released on April 29 2003 by Interscope Records. While Interscope was part of major label Warner Music Group, crucially they gave artists complete creative control. And so the triple named trio reinvigorated a moribund independent music scene (best rock video in 1999 Limp Bizkit anyone?), particularly that of edgy, literate guitar music; but also their later hooky, more poppy synth sound paved the way for artists such as Lady Gaga.


However it's Karen O's yelping, vocal gyrations; Nick Zinner's guitar wailing like a New York City cop car's siren on the most urgent of 911 calls; and Brian Chase's thumping drums and metallic hi hats which coalesced into a bass-free, unpredictable yet accessible garage rock on their brilliant debut.


Recorded in pre hipster Brooklyn, it was produced by the band and David Sitek of TV on the Radio. Mixing was handled by Zinner and Alan Moulder, who had previously worked with bands like My Bloody Valentine and The Smashing Pumpkins.

They can't have known how it was going to be received and that's one of the beautiful things about it. No expectations and yet maximum love for a now revered record which somehow captured the exhilarating spectacle of their live shows. Most bands spend a career trying to studio capture the shapeshifting magic of what happens on stage - Yeah Yeah Yeahs did it first time.


“There was just such urgency and self-destruction,” Karen O told Goodman, “the need for release, hedonism”. YYYs gladly fulfilled it. Twenty years there's still nothing remotely come close.

 

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