So, what do you remember most from the year 2003? That weird documentary where Michael Jackson insisted on climbing trees with a journalist? When the Terminator actually became an elected government official? That God awful Daredevil movie with Ben Affleck? Or that time Ben Affleck groped Peyton from One Tree Hill on TRL and everyone thought it was funny? (She definitely didn’t forget about that). Hopefully you remember as the time when New York Indie rock was actually marketable. Bands like Ra Ra Riot, The Walkmen, The Rapture, LCD Soundsystem, Interpol and The Strokes were all just living it up on MTV and your bedroom wall. People also believe that this was the birth year of the hipster, you know who I’m talking about. That kid that has the greatest taste in music, owns every record ever made by anyone, was into your favorite band before you knew about them and he/she is of the opinion that creation myths are so passé (I’m just describing myself at this point). For reference, please turn to LCD’s “Losing My Edge”, guaranteed to either make you laugh or piss you off, your money back. Anyway, one of the names that caused a frenzy amongst all music snobs in the Lower East Side was the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. A punk inspired trio comprised of introvert drummer Brian Chase, man obsessed and guitar assassin Nicholas Zimmer and the queen of attitude and sex: Karen O.
After initially grouping in late 1999, the band would spend the next few years writing and recording a myriad of “trashy, punk and grimy” songs in their loft. Soon they were picked up in the New York circuit and began touring alongside the likes of The Strokes and The White Stripes in early 2001. They had some beers, got some buzz and released a self-tilted EP, which I highly recommend you check out. However, things really started to kick off in 2003, that year I mentioned earlier, with the release of debut album Fever to Tell. The album blew everyone who heard it away, bringing in critical response and billboard positions, most importantly it showed that Yeah Yeah Yeahs were a forced to be reckoned with. As of November 9, this baby has had some major upgrades, being remastered and reissued officially on vinyl.
The original LP still stands the test of time, being as loud as ever. It kicks off the explosive and seductive opener “Rich”, in which Ms. O proclaims that “I’m rich, like a hot noise!”, featuring chilling synths and accompanied by pounding punk rock drums. The rest of the album takes you on an adrenaline rush of a lifetime with tracks that have noisy but tasteful guitar riffs, Karen O’s seductive but piercing vocal deliveries, and sex positive lyrics about one stands, night life in New York City, and the occasional reference to incest. Standard rock stuff, right? But the amongst the sea of hedonism, the band managed to show a more tender side of themselves, especially on fan favorite “Maps” a song about the demise of Karen’s long-term relationship.
Throughout their career, Yeah Yeah Yeahs has revealed little as to what their initial writing and recording process was like during the conception of Fever. With the release of this limited edition deluxe remastered reissue fans are privy to behind the scenes documentaries, interviews etc. about the band before recording and whilst touring to promote the album. It also features various early demos, B-sides and two unreleased tracks “Shake It” and “Boogers”, all of which I guarantee would please diehard fans or excite curious listeners. Here’s the cherry on top for my fellow music nerds, it also comes with various posters, unreleased lyric sheets, photographs and if you act fast enough a cassette of the original LP.
With various updates and new editions, the album still manages to hit all the right spots it did back in 2003. It’s blunt, noisy, filthy, fabulous and unapologetically sexy. It will certainly go down as one of the best albums of the century. I personally rate it five Karen’s spitting out water out of five.
If you’ve got $195.00 to spare you can pre-order the entire box set from the band’s official website. If not the deluxe version is available across all streaming services.