Fever to Tell, the debut album from New York art rockers Yeah Yeah Yeahs, officially turned 14 years old this year—its actual release date was April 29, 2003. But a cryptic post on the band's Twitter account has sent 'fans' (me) into a 'tailspin' (frantically Googling for tour dates)—and it's led to this almost-six-minute resurfaced demo, called "Phone Jam." The voicemail-centred track howls and squeals while Karen O sings, almost to herself, and was presumably laid down while the album was being recorded, accompanied as it is by an image of a tape labelled June 2002.
On the recording, O says to an unknown second party that she's "just like... fucking around with Nick with some music stuff." She's referring to her Yeah Yeah Yeahs partner-in-crime Nick Zinner, and 'some music stuff' became Fever to Tell, an album that sold a million copies worldwide, and cemented her position as one of the great yelping, screeching, cooing rock vocalists of the modern era.
So while the album isn't officially 15 years old, the recording process did indeed begin 15 years ago (feel old yet???), and from the band's recent social media activity—their Twitter banner, for example, has been changed to something which looks suspiciously like the Fever to Tell artwork—it seems like they're gearing up to celebrate. On first glance, you'd probably assume that we'd be looking at your standard re-issue on gatefold vinyl, maybe with a few extra tracks (hi, "Phone Jam") or old versions of well-known songs from the original Fever to Tell sessions. But a couple of retweets on their Twitter account suggest something slightly more interesting.
Obviously you know what this means but let me explain it anyway: what we have here are photos of the Fonda Theatre in Hollywood and the Kings Theatre in Brooklyn essentially teasing Yeah Yeah Yeahs live events via billboards featuring lyrics from Fever to Tell. This is extremely exciting, and a logical leap of faith might suggest that the band will be taking the record out on tour for full-album shows, for the long-term stans.
There are definitely pros and cons to anniversary tours where bands play full albums, but when the album in question is as wall-to-wall bangers as Fever to Tell, it's kind of a no-brainer. The album has also picked up a lot of fans who might have been too young first time around over the years (I'm talking about myself), and for a lot of people, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs are an especially meaningful band because they—and Karen O, in particular—provided an electrifying, much-needed alternative to the male-coded nonchalance of indie bands like The Strokes when they first emerged. And though we'll find out what exactly the band have planned soon, an anniversary tour would be the perfect way to honour the legacy of an album which vibrates with the sort of energy that demands a live concert. Oh, and if they wouldn't mind stopping by the UK too, that'd be lovely.
UPDATE: OK, so this has now been confirmed as a reissue, available on vinyl and cassette, with bonus video, due October 20. It will, as I suspected, include new songs and demos, and those retweets symbolize the bands' first live shows in a long minute (where they'll hopefully play Fever to Tell in full).
In the meantime, the band have shared one of the new songs from the reissue. It's called "Shake It," and the band have been playing it live since 2002. Hear it below:
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