What strikes my fancy about this thing is the cover: sketches of freakishly ugly "things"in mustard, purple and white; jumping, hanging, or whatever you want to identify their acrobatics as. They're great really, especially considering that the art just makes me giggle at the site of midget things cataplting around a room or something like that, y'know? Just silly.
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah are just like that, kind of. What is even cooler is that they're a cool band. Not 'cool' in your normal way, 'cool' like "hey, I could probably listen to this more than once and still enjoy it every time". They embrace the pop hooks, the indie pecularaties, and some blippity bloppityness of synthesizers and other wondeful instruments. That's right, blippity bloppity
. It seems like they would be another conventional, dull indie-pop band on paper, but after awhile of listening, it's clear that this band ain't like dem others. Although the melodies, song structures, and all of that wobbledorf are pretty familiar, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah's sound is a blend of earnest indie-pop, silly hooks, a bit of shoegaze's dreamfactor, and most importantly - Alec Ounsworth's croon, yelp, shout, sweetsweetsweet voice.
It's not necessarily that Alec's voice is the most tuneful, it certainly is not, but what he does do well is project feeling through his obscure yelps. Most of the time, you can't even tell what he's singing (thank God for the liner-lyrics), but he damn well channels whatever emotion the music and lyrics indicate through his voice. "Clap Your Hands!", the not-so-subtle opener, may be his most obnoxious moment on the album. Along with carnival organ playing, crooning backround vocals, clapping, and bass drum, Ounsowrth shouts and revels in the lo-fi production of the song; sounding like a manic lion tamer. But, by the next song, "Let The Cool Goddess Rust Away", Clap Your Hands Say Yeah establish their signature sound, which they impliment throughout the whole album in different ways. The first truly impressive song, though, is easily the wonderful "The Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth", which evokes a light-hearted Interpol combined with Hellogoodbye. Lyrically, the song is as absurd and somehow meaningfull as the rest of Alec's songs, but what's most important is how he directs the emotions and feelings the song is intended (or not intended) to bring out.
This however, is not to discredit the rest of the band's musical efforts. Every song, though not entirely the most original or innovative, is interesting somehow (besides the bass-fuzz out "Heavy Metal). Guitars chop around, bass bounces about the song with a carefree tone, and the drumming is as upbeat and dance-worthy as any other indie-pop band. Following the wonderful "The Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth" is the equally good "Is This Love?", once again evoking the pop-rock of Hellogoodbye, with galloping, upbeat guitar playing and swirling electronic noises. Alec's struggle for certain notes, which he almost
gets to, is gloriously sloppy and cute. "In This Home on Ice", however, easily makes for the greatest song on Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
. It is distinct within the scope of the album in that the guitars are focused and ethereal; reminding myself of Ride covering "The Kids Are Alright". And for once, the band finally has a true anthem of a song: driving, melodic guitar playing, pounding drums, and a beautiful, uplifting vocal delivery from Ounsworth. It all ends too soon. "Upon This Tidal Wave of Young Blood" is driven by precise acoustic strums and light drums. However, I can't take the song as seriously as some of the others, with lines like "There is nothing left to fear / Now that Bigfoot is captured" and the repetition of the phrase "child stars" 30 times. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
I don't know if I can put my finger on what exactly makes Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
such a wonderful album. Sure, they sucessfully combine several elements of pop, rock, indie, and other genres into an acessable, hook-laden package, but there is something else in the music that is hard to point out. If every other indie-pop band could be as strikingly dissimilar as Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, the world would be a wonderful place (especially withouot the Bravery). Of course, the album is not without it's flaws; several songs fall below the quality of the superiors, Alec's singing can be a bit tedious ("Upon This Tidal Wave of Young Blood), and some songs just flat-out feel uninspired. These detractors, however, are not necessarily things that take away from Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
as a whole; they are merely subtle and not-so-subtle attributes that could easily approved upon in the future, something that I am sure Clap Your Hands Say Yeah are capable of.
CLAP YOUR HANDS!