Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Fever to Tell (2003)
98.9 The Drive is probably the best radio station in Kingston, Ontario.
A compliment, yes, albeit somewhat backhanded.
To begin with, as a firm believer in the album medium, I struggle with radio’s ‘shuffle’ formatting. Considering the business model of many radio stations, some songs are in heavy rotation, where being overplayed is an understatement.
Which is where an ‘alternative’ station like The Drive is the most palatable of the options. Even then, for every 1 great song (such as Arkells’ Ballad of Hugo Chavez), there will be 1 song I don’t care for and 1 song that’s well, adequate.
For the latter, enter the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
Seemingly tailor-made for ‘alternative’ radio, the vocal distortion effect is distracting but I see the appeal. Maps found its way into the Rock Band video game and 10 years ago, Fever to Tell may have been a unique sound.
A decade later, 1/3 of the content played on alternative radio stations is, for the most part, indistinguishable from this record. One of those great ironies where an ‘indie’ (short for independent) vibe ends up sounding like the masses.
There’s a great 2004 song, The List Goes On, by The Ordinary Boys with a relatable complaint:
“Radio play just depresses me today
Why is it so throw away…clearly it all sounds the same”
I wouldn’t call Fever to Tell entirely disposable; it’s just that there seem to be plenty of reasonable substitutes available in 2013.