Like the Strokes' Modern Age EP, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs' self-titled debut is a minimanifesto, announcing the arrival of another New York band to watch. Along with the White Stripes, the YYYs are the artiest and most challenging of the garage rock revivalists, fearlessly mashing together three decades' worth of inspiration into five songs that showcase their just-this-side-of-sleazy sex appeal and sharp sense of humor. Singer Karen O's love-or-hate-it instrument defines the band, whether it's crackling with high-pitched sexual tension on "Bang" or dripping with deadpan contempt on "Art Star." While O's singing is distinctive in its own right, the shades of previous female rockers that can be heard in her voice add another layer of intrigue to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs' sound. The sweet "doo-de-doo"s and harsh screams on "Art Star" recall Kathleen Hanna's double-edged assault in Bikini Kill; the brittle keen O adopts on "Miles Away" is reminiscent of Mecca Normal's Jean Smith, or even Janis Ian; her sexy sneer on "Bang" and "Mystery Girl" calls to mind Romeo Void's Debora Iyall. The lurching guitars and simple, driving drumming backing her also sound like the missing link between -- or end result of -- classic New York art punk, garage rock, and riot grrrl, which not so ironically celebrates classic rock's primal rhythms and riffs and sexy, nonsensical lyrics. Likewise, the excellent antianthem "Our Time" has a gritty romanticism and rousing us-against-the-world heroism that might not be expected from such an arty band, but the Yeah Yeah Yeahs are nothing if not surprising. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs cram more ideas and attitude into five songs than most bands express in an entire album; if this EP is anything to go by, their full-length debut will truly be a force to be reckoned with.
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AllMusic Review by Heather Phares