BY CHUCK ARNOLD
Their full-length debut, 2003's Fever to Tell, was hot hot hot, but the Yeah Yeah Yeahs have cooled off on this somewhat disappointing follow-up. The second album from the New York glam-punk trio continues in the direction of "Maps," a moody turn on Fever to Tell that became the band's biggest hit to date. What worked as a nice change-up on Fever to Tell, though, results in plodding pacing on the new disc. On leaden tracks such as the acoustic-guitar-laced "The Sweets"—one of a tedious trio of songs that closes the CD on a total downer—the Yeah Yeah Yeahs seem to be showing their weary bones. Even when they pump it up, they never quite seem to reach full throttle, and frontwoman Karen O—she of the banshee wail—sounds strangely subdued for much of the album. Still, there are some bright moments in the gloominess: The group shows its new-wave cool on "Cheated Hearts" and "Dudley," while peaking with the back-to-back blitz of the grinding, rumbling "Fancy" and the hip-hoppish "Phenomena." The latter, which features Karen O nearly rapping and a chorus that echoes LL Cool J's 1997 single "Phenomenon," may just be the funkiest thing they've ever done.
DOWNLOAD THIS: "Phenomena"