Seems like most of the great new guitar bands from that massive tidal wave a couple of years ago got washed up after their first album. Interpol's second album turned out to be a yawnfest with only two or three songs I can even remember now. The Strokes keep rehashing the same formula for ever decreasing returns, their sound getting as flabby as their 20-something beer bellies. The White Stripes seem to interminably flog the same horse, with even the tiniest deviation from their formula being hailed as some kind of major reinvention.
And now the Yeah Yeah Yeahs have sadly continued the trend. I really dislike their new single, Gold Lion - it is, depressingly, a tiresome piece of strummy FM trash with abstruse words and declawed kick-arse sections that completely fail to kick even one bit of any arse. This saddens me, more than I thought it would. I totally fell in love with Fever To Tell, after a shaky start. There's a sort of vulnerability, desperation and sadness that runs through it like an internal narrative, but also this huge, bursting enthusiasm that you see when Miss O is running around on stage with that huge grin plastered all over her face. There music was always very naked in that way, like there's always some real feeling bubbling very close to the surface, about to burst through. And when you combine all that with the ace tunes, the stunning clothes, the unstoppable effervescence, and the personality cult thing, it's a pretty potent mixture. But if you remove any one of those elements, it suffers. And they have lost the tunes, and the investment of emotion, and therefore the genuine-ness - and with those crucial elements missing, their appeal collapses like a house of cards. It's like when Patrick Wolf retreated into symbolism on his second record, and I found myself searching for his fingerprints in the music and finding distant ideas, stories and sketches instead. When they start to give you less, you notice, if that's what you're attuned to.
And the whole of Show Your Bones sounds the same, bar one or two songs. They have smoothed everything over and sanded everything down. It's not a positive evolution. That said, I thought the same about Fever To Tell when it first appeared compared to the first EP (and all the accompanying scratchy bootleg live versions - I still think the BBC session version 'Tick' is the definitive version). Maybe their trajectory from skronky guitar fuzz to FM friendly melodic strummery just got a little too steep this time.
Pack your bags. Grit your teeth. It's time to fall out of love.
2John Brainlove's Score