In July of 2004, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, a rock trio from New York City, opened for Devo, the new-wave group, in a show at the band shell in Central Park. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ 2003 début album, “Fever to Tell,” had gone gold, a considerable achievement for a noisy and idiosyncratic band that lacks a bass player and has a sound that is sometimes thin and spiky. The group had sold half a million records, in part because the video for “Maps,” a stirring love song that is as close as the band gets to a ballad, had become a staple on MTV2. . . In the chorus of “Cheated Hearts,” a gorgeous, yearning track that could become the album’s big hit, Karen O sings one phrase over and over in a crescendo: “I think that I’m bigger than the sound.” The band responds with a convincing eruption of noise, elegantly belying her claim. The moment neatly captures Karen O’s appeal: in her recordings and in her live performances, she satisfies the audience’s need for a star while allowing us to see the ordinary person struggling with that role. “It’s important for kids to feel bigger than they usually do,” Karen O told me. “We’re trying to make you feel a little bit cooler than you might actually be.” Kids listening to “Show Your Bones” will recognize the insecurity she describes, and feel it drain away.
more from Jones at the New Yorker here.