21.) Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Fever to Tell (2003)
I'm not even going to try and start this entry without talking about Karen O. Over the decade Karen O has been, without question, the best frontperson in rock 'n roll. I'm not attempting to diminish Nick Zinner's and Brian Chase's roles, but sometimes a star just emerges and from the moment Fever to Tell opens with the exquisite "Rich", everyone listening knew who the star of Yeah Yeah Yeahs was.
Karen O is to this generation what Mick Jagger was to our parents -sexy, dangerous, slinking, powerful and with a coo as affecting as her growl. She may have seemed at first to be a little stand offish - what with the Brooklyn cred and all - but the moment you saw her perform it was a completely different ball game. Karen O has fun up there, man and she wants you to have fun too.
Karen O is everything Lady GaGa wishes she was. Lady GaGa, who I like mind you, is as manufactured and PR tested as any artist working. She's pushed that she's a musician first and performance artist second, but that's all bullshit. Her work is so rehearsed and even though she's not boring, it comes off cold and calculated. It's as if this whole being a musician thing is just a pretentious, and highly self-conscious, ruse. Karen O doesn't give a fuck. She too has been called both a musician and a performance artist, but it's quite clear the music is the inspiration for everything.
There is not one false moment in Fever to Tell, still Yeah Yeah Yeahs best record bell to bell (though this years It's Blitz is pretty fucking great). It's a rush. It was a shot right to the heart of the indie rock scene, which at the time was being dominated by backward thinking dudes. It's the kind of record that goes by in such a whirlwind that you're immediately drawn to listen again...and again...and again. It's the type of record that also just keeps getting better over time. As the punk spirit has been all but sucked out of indie rock, Fever to Tell's relevance just keeps increasing.
While Fever to Tell starts balls to the wall and remains that way until it's second to last track and it's that track that has defined the band and rightly so. "Maps" is a tremendous song. I think it's the best song of the decade. Number one...with a bullet. Beautifully crafted and with a fragile lead vocal that's both heartbreaking and uplifting all within one breath. It's captures the feel of early 2000's NYC better than perhaps any song from that era. Can't you see the hipster couple underdressed for the cold, a little more than slightly buzzed and outside a bar smoking a cigarette fighting and making up all within moments? That's "Maps" to me. That's Fever to Tell to me. It's a time I remember fondly and a record that I simply adore.
Posted by Pat Driscoll