Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
Hysterical


2.5
average

Review

by Rudy K. STAFF
September 20th, 2011 | 15 replies | 8,379 views


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah begin to rust away

“Same Mistake” almost had me believing again. The four-on-the-floor, hi-hat-happy beat, the fact that Alec Ounsworth no longer sounds like the bastardized child of David Byrne and the sound a junkyard cat makes in heat, the irresistible melody. It’s a great song, in the vein of “The Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth” and “Is this Love,” songs that captured the offbeat quirkiness that originally endeared CYHSY to the early blogosphere. 2007’s Some Loud Thunder’s critical and commercial misstep was turning that lovable wackiness into something obtuse and increasingly insular, easy to appreciate for what the band was doing but hard to actually like. Ounsworth’s affected off-key yelp had become annoying and the songs prickly and divergent, fleeing from that pop framework that grounded Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and turned it into such a frenetic, unexpected ball of happily nervous energy. Four years and one “indefinite” hiatus later and it’s a bit odd to process Hysterical, given that the scene CYHSY grew out of has largely passed on or morphed into something altogether new. For all its problems, Some Loud Thunder had a definite identity; Hysterical, sadly, has none.

Hysterical sounds great. The production emphasizes sparkly guitars and trebly reverb courtesy of seasoned vet John Congleton (St. Vincent, Modest Mouse, many more), and Ounsworth’s vocal inflections resemble more a controlled burn and less Dan Bejar on methamphetamines. He’s matured, and so has the band – gone are the pointless attempts to scare away listeners with an abrasive opening track a la “Clap Your Hands!” Things are tight, controlled; the title track gallops along a foreboding synth line and a relentless rhythm, while the snappy footwork and crystal-clear cymbals on “Same Mistake” could almost be called martial. The fact that Ounsworth can pen a credible ballad like “In A Motel” that places the focus on his voice and pull it off is something that would have been laughed off on Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. And all of it, of course, sounds like something you’ve already heard before.

There’s shades of the Killers, on the jittery “Maniac” and “Misspent Youth;” a tinge of Two Door Cinema Club on the rote post-punk “Ketamine and Ecstasy;” any number of replaceable bands on any number of 4/4, vaguely dance-inflected tracks here with shiny hooks and shiner guitar tones (“Yesterday, Never,” “The Witness’s Dull Surprise,” “Same Mistake”… you get the idea). It gives Hysterical an uncomfortable aura of sameness, something previously foreign to a CYHSY record. That same excited feeling I got when I first heard “Same Mistake,” the one that reminded me of “The Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth’s” sugar-high of a melody, faded quickly when song after song failed to distinguish itself from any number of middle-of-the-road, vaguely new-wave-influenced bands. The fact that a ragged, two-and-a-half-minute guitar solo that appears out of nowhere the otherwise routine “Into Your Alien Arms” can qualify as a surprise on a Clap Your Hands Say Yeah record is a bit sad.

Only on closer “Adam’s Plane” do CYHSY even approach the measured mix between weird and accessible that made their debut such a gratifying mix of edginess and heartfelt charm. It takes them seven minutes of fiddling around with rattling pianos, random tonal shifts and a pleasantly throwback Ounsworth vocal performance/howl to compensate for the straightforward indie of the previous eleven songs. It’s an afterthought, one that is as out of place in the context of Hysterical as Hysterical is in the context of CYHSY’s discography. For a band that once never failed to make an impression, be it positive or nauseating, the fact that the best Hysterical can muster is indifference is simply disappointing.



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user ratings (26)
Chart.
2.9
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Comments:Add a Comment 
PorkchopExpress
September 20th 2011



382 Comments


I'm really, really liking this album right now, so I was surprised to see it getting middling reviews here and everywhere else. I guess this is the sound of a once young, energetic band "maturing", but I think the new sound suits them well. And though I'm one of the few who liked "Some Loud Thunder", most complaints directed toward the album was that their sound was already becoming stale, or (as you said) grating. I think, especially given the time between albums, this was a "Damned if you do" album. Nice review though.

Digging: Pure X - Angel

klap
Staff Reviewer
September 20th 2011



10001 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

i can see where you're coming from, i just think the songs here aren't nearly distinctive enough to stand out

crazyblinddude
September 20th 2011



3389 Comments


Always kinda hated these guys. Good review. Very descriptive.

Scoot
September 21st 2011



17486 Comments


horrid band name

iFghtffyrdmns
September 21st 2011



7047 Comments


this isn't good!?
:[ :[

their s/t was so awesome and then some loud thunder was meh and I was hoping this wouldn't suck but god damnit. still gotta hear it anyway I guess

TechieCore
September 21st 2011



662 Comments


What? An indie album only getting an average rating?

*Heart attack*

clercqie
Contributing Reviewer
September 21st 2011



6248 Comments


Never really listened to these guys, although there was some buzz surrounding them a couple of years back...

Great review, Rudy!

Digging: Trophy Scars - Holy Vacants

witchxrapist
September 21st 2011



10733 Comments


Their name alone is enough to realize they probably suck.

iFghtffyrdmns
September 22nd 2011



7047 Comments


dude their name rules go away witch

AggravatedYeti
September 22nd 2011



7684 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

I see where you're coming from Rudy.

klap
Staff Reviewer
September 22nd 2011



10001 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

spectacles not required

mallen-
September 22nd 2011



1235 Comments


Klapper remind me to check this band out, I keep forgetting

Digging: The War on Drugs - Lost in the Dream

struth
September 23rd 2011



435 Comments


lol this band are hysterical

deathridesahorse
September 23rd 2011



65 Comments


i'm disappointed to hear this is disappointing

DallyLama
September 25th 2011



1048 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

their second album was best. but everyone seems to disagree. im glad people arent buying this crap tho.



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