March 30, 2021
This stopgap EP comes roughly a year after 2006’s Show Your Bones. While that record took a more tempered, almost new wave-y approach to their brand of garage punk, this is a snarling, back-to-basics rush of clanging guitars, shrieking vocals and heavy, throbbing drums. Whether or not it’ll strike your fancy is pretty much dependent upon which of their first two records you prefer. If you answered Fever To Tell, you’re in luck.
The opener “Tell Me What rockrrs to swalllow” is actually culled from their tour sessions, and is featured on their 2004 DVD of the same name. It’s actually a rather weak track, but does bring memories of the group’s formative years crashing back. But thats apparent anytime Brian Chase’s staccato drum patterns give way to Nick Zinner’s massive guitars, still dripping with distortion and drone like a lost Birthday Party b-side. ‘Isis’ doesn’t fare nearly as well, and feels like it was picked up off the Show Your Bones cutting floor. Nonetheless, both tracks are likely to come as a major relief to those who’ve had to make do with Giant Drag or have suffered through an entire Be Your Own Pet record while waiting for new YYY material.
Is Is does however feature three particular standouts that make it worth the purchase. ‘Down Boy’ has already gained considerable popularity through alternative radio airplay, mixing the danceable rhythms of previous single ‘Gold Lion’ with the controlled guitar menace of their early EPs. ‘Kiss Kiss’ follows in the same vein, but is a far grittier, thanks to Zinner absolutely tearing it up on guitar. One of the few lasting benefits of the throwback indie invasion of the early 2000s has been the rise to prominence of a select few guitarists with genuine talent; Zinner, along with luminaries like Jack White, is one of the very best in the game today.
As 10×10 finishes off the 18-minute EP with a welcome cocktail of Killing Joke’s percussive throb and vocalist Karen O’s sly semi-sexual innuendo, I have to say, I’m feeling pretty chuffed about the record. EPs are expected to build anticipation for future full-lengths, but the strategy can backfire if the release is underwhelming, as was the case with British Sea Power’s Krankenhaus, for example. Is Is, on the other hand has done a fine job of tiding fans over, providing them with useful mixtape material, and raising the stakes for the next record.
Note: This review was originally written for Epinions.com sometime in late 2007.