Song 213: Yeah Yeah Yeahs, “Cheated Hearts” (2006)

show-your-bones

How do the Yeah Yeah Yeahs do it? From album to album, their sound changes, sometimes in subtle ways, sometimes in more noticeable ones, yet they always sound like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. I haven’t heard their new record yet, but their previous three have ranged in style from garage rock, straight-ahead rock balladry, techno-infused dance music, and hazy synth-pop. But underneath it all, the band’s humor and humanity, brought to musical life by Nick Zinner’s sharp guitar sound and Karen O’s mysterious but clear voice, comes through.

Like so many songs before it, I thought for sure that “Cheated Hearts,” from the band’s undersung second record Show Your Bones, would be a massive hit. I was very wrong. But why wouldn’t it be? Check out that melody, which is the stuff that radio hits are built on, or those guitars, which swirl around but never lose direction. And those lyrics, which include the line “Sometimes I think that I’m bigger than the sound,” which is repeated like a mantra.

It may not be the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ best song – you can’t deny the greatness of “Maps,” and there are plenty of contenders for the title on the excellent It’s Blitz! – but it’s “Cheated Hearts” that I come back to most. As those ominous guitar notes build to a stormy head, it thrills me every time. The fact that it settles into a jangly pattern, with the occasional freakout, is a bonus.

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