As an indie classic that has stood the test of time, the utterly iconic Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs track ‘Maps’ proves to be an instantly transportive anthem that whisks you back to the early 2000s reinvigoration of guitar music from the very first note. Whether it is the time that has passed in all of our lives since it was released in 2003 or otherwise, the song simply has a great air of nostalgia and reminiscence about it.
Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs frontwoman Karen O penned the brooding song about her boyfriend Angus Andrew who had to leave her to accept a job offer. “It’s a love song, rooted in the emotion of missing someone,” she once said. That atmosphere is palpable in the track. As one of the great alternative rock love songs, it translates the message of longing with scintillating aplomb.
Hot on the heels of the Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs were Arcade Fire. Their superb debut record Funeral was released in 2004 as the dust was only just settling on ‘Maps’. They were a band who have fittingly always seemed to adhere to Karen O’s artistic ethos. As she once said: “I’m in the camp that needs to discover and take risks, sometimes it’s with the promise of something special and new, sometimes it’s to stay awake, either way, it’s much more stressful with all the uncertainty but worth the pain in the end.”
It would also seem that both artists share a similar evolving sound. As Karen O also explained: “I feel like every five to seven years I really need to put myself in this position of discomfort and exploration, just to survive. Otherwise, I feel like I’m falling asleep, like I’ll go crazy if I don’t do it.”
Arcade Fire’s cover of ‘Maps’ catches them early in their career as they played on BBC Radio One’s Live Lounge back in 2005 when their alternative indie sound was fresh to our ears. With their orchestral style, the song is given a swelling arrangement that captures the same gathering force as the original.
With covers of ‘Maps’ also out there by the likes of The White Stripes and Florence + The Machine and even nods by Beyonce, the love that the song has received from its peers proves how truly seminal it is. Today, it is still as fresh as ever and most likely will always remain a timeless anthem that helped to define an era of music.