The Angry Corrie 58: Jul-Sep 2003

Mountaineering Melodies 24: Maps

Wait, they don't love you like I love you
Wait, they don't love you like I love you
Maaa-aaa aaa-aaa aaa-aaa aaa-aaaps
Wait, they don't love you like I love you

'Maps', Yeah Yeah Yeahs, 2003

IT'S ALWAYS GOOD to see cartography in the charts, and 'Maps' is a strong contender for best song about, er, maps since Hendrix's eerily prescient 'Purple Haze'. Presumably Karen Orzalek isn't singing about Landrangers or Explorers, or even about (Polly) Harveys, as Yeah Yeah Yeahs are based in New York. But they make the biggest gravel-guttural noise ground out by any three-piece since Weller and co's urban streetsongs, and their tunes include Tick (about bagging, or insects, or both) and Black Tongue (a heavy-going heather slope in the northern Pennines).

Goodness knows how Yeah Yeah Yeahs' garage-grunge can be categorised, but for much of their debut album, Fever to Tell, think Lene Lovich doing covers of the B-52s' 'Rock Lobster' reworked, dark-style, by the aforementioned Ms Harvey - and you're about a quarter of the way there. 'Maps' feels atypical of the CD but is the most accessible thing on it: after eight tracks of squealing and yelling Orzalek suddenly comes close to what old-fogey parents would term 'singing properly'. She's backed by Brian Chase's thumping drums (what Adam Ant's jungle-beat numbers might have been like had they been any good) and sporadic bursts of flaming guitar from Nick Zinner and his Eraserhead-meets-Heroes-period-Bowie hairstyle.

'Pack up, don't stray', sings Orzalek - but if the gist of her rather sweet lyric is that she seriously thinks it's better to forsake grid lines and graticule intersections for some human-based love interest, then she's wrong. There really is nothing nicer than snuggling up alongside a handful of spot heights of an evening.

Coming soon: Caan Dun, Shabba Ranks (1995); Maps of Tacit, Shannon Wright (2000).

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