CD Review of Show Your Bones by Yeah Yeah Yeahs

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Show Your Bones
starstarstarno starno star Label: Interscope
Released: 2006
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As one of the bands to emerge during the post-Strokes garage rock explosion, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs burst onto the scene in 2003 with "Maps," the hit single from their debut album, Fever to Tell. If their debut album was about falling in love, then their sophomore effort, Show Your Bones, is about the inevitable breakup. The band itself is certainly capable – and judging by the variety of sounds on Bones, quite versatile – but the Yeah Yeah Yeahs will only go as far as frontwoman Karen O can take them. The word "sexy" is often used to describe the group's sound, and that's mainly due to O's provocative vocals. Wisely, her sultry voice is front and center on Bones, and while there is a lot to like about the album, after three year layoff, I was expecting a little more.

The first track, the oddly-titled "Gold Lion," shuffles along at the start, but O's falsetto "oh-oh" works its way into the listener's brain, making it the most approachable song on the album. "Phenomena" has a "Bang" feel to it (if you don't have that song, stop reading and find it NOW), but it's slower and more thoughtful, which might be what limits its effectiveness. Still, the chorus is fun and features a strong hook, which is what's lacking from the good part of the disc. O sings "Dudley" straight, forgoing her usual theatrics (which she leans on a bit too much for my taste), singing as honestly as she did on "Maps." It's an up-tempo ballad, which is a departure for the band. The closer, "Turn Into," features yet another style; it's sort of a twangy alt-country number that Jeff Tweedy might cover during an encore.

While the persistent "Cheated Hearts" continues to grow on me, the rest of the disc just isn't as interesting. The songs simply lack the hooks present in the band's best work. I wouldn't say that Bones is worse than Fever, but it's not better, either. It's basically a handful of good songs and some filler, and with three years to refine and develop its art-punk sound, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs should be able to deliver more.

~John Paulsen