2005 and 2006 were great years for Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. The Brooklyn five-piece band self-released, self-distributed, and self-promoted their self-titled debut album in the Fall of 2005, and it spread through the Internet's web servers like a virus. Mainstream media took notice of the buzz and all of a sudden the unsigned band was playing to packed houses across the states.
Well, we're only thirty-three days into the new year, but as evidenced by the band's sophomore effort, 2007 looks pretty promising as well.
I was a bit turned off by this album upon first-listen, but it has since grown on me. Nope, there are no high-octane crowd-bouncing sing-a-longs like "The Skin Of My Yellow Country Teeth" or "Upon This Tidal Wave Of Young Blood" to be found here. What we do have is an album that is more polished, more varied, and (for better or worse) more mature than its predecessor. While it doesn't have the unbridled energy and spontaneity that CYHSY's fans have come to know and love, the album still has a lot to offer.
"Some Loud Thunder" opens abruptly with its title track, a slice of noisy pop that will likely prompt you to hit pause and check your speaker connections. Its output sounds as if the song is being amplified through a ten dollar clock radio that someone inexplicably decided to rig up to a ten dollar subwoofer. Though it may seem like an odd choice to open the album, it's there by design. This is the same kind of attention-grabbing tactic employed so effectively with "Clap Your Hands!," the manic opening track from the band's groundbreaking debut. Unfortunately, the impact of the song's distorted production isn't realized until the song is over, when its clouds part, and "Emily Jean Stock" shines through.
"Emily Jean Stock" is a great showcase for Alec Ounsworth's unique voice. The song's simple lyrics and melody complement his vocals perfectly and grants plenty of air time to those pleasingly dizzy harmonies. It feels almost like a prologue, building up to… something.
Unfortunately, something comes in the form of "Mama, Won't You Keep Those Castles In The Air & Burning?," which is symptomatic of the album's flow issues.
Momentum is gained and disposed of very quickly on the record, making it almost frustrating at times to listen to. The moody "Love Song No. 7" seems dense, heavy, and out of place preceding the four-on-the-floor romp "Satan Said Dance." And in turn, the energy generated by that number is immediately stomped on by "Upon Encountering The Crippled Elephant."
Despite these issues, the high points on this album are quite high. "Yankee Go Home" is fantastic, and as big and important a song that Clap Your Hands Say Yeah has written. "Goodbye To Mother And The Cove" is the strongest of the slower tracks, featuring some fantastic bass work and a wonderful arrangement and orchestration. Also, the aforementioned "Satan Said Dance" reminds us that these guys really do still have fun.
The problem is that we need to be reminded at all.