14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Clap your hands (and say yeah),
This review is from: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah (Audio CD)
At least twice a year, indie-rock buzz reaches a frenzy over some new, strange band, usually with a funny name and a sound that is different from any other new band.
This year, it's the turn of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah's self-titled debut, which may have the most unbearably twee name of the year. But don't get hung up on that. Their music is what matters, and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah evoke charming melodies, catchy tunes, and maybe a bit of the madcap carnival.
It opens with an imitation of a carnie, calling in an insane, unenthusiastic crowd. Singer Alec Ounsworth seems to be calling people in to enjoy the music, by telling them to "clap your hands!" over and over, with the crowd replying, ""But I have no money!/But it don't seem likely/Are you up to somethin?/Where's my milk'n'honey?/But I just look funny..."
It's a delightful intro, but a good album needs more than that. And it does just that, by quickly seguing into clean indie-pop with pulsating basslines. Then Ounsworth and Co. introduce us to some murky, fuzzy dance music, folk pop, sparkling indie pop with jangling guitars, and even a sort of sweeping twee synthy pop. It shouldn't fit together as well as it does, but the upbeat tone and sparkling melodies stick all these styles together.
One of the closest comparisons to this album is Arcade Fire's "Funeral" from last year, since both of them sport a unique sound and eclectic instrumentation. But where Arcade Fire is downbeat, these guys are resolutely weird, upbeat and cheery.
They also have a special way with creating catchy pop -- most catchy stuff is very simple and forgettable. But Clap Your Hands Say Yeah weave in layered guitars, toy piano, low-key bass and some buzzing, fuzzy synth with tight acoustic melodies. The result is driving, energetic music that is anything but forgettable.
Alec Ounsworth has a sort of "indie voice" like Jeff Mangum's, a bit flat in places. But the crazier the song gets, the better he sounds, and he yowls and yodels as if he really is bringing people into a circus. And while the songs seem oblique, they gradually take on meaning: "Success is so forbidding/But it makes me think I'm winning/Quiet/Dim the lights/Adopt another lifestyle..."
Is Clap Your Hands Say Yeah as good as they say? It's certainly a contender. This charming mad melange has charm, beauty and entertainment, and is definitely worth getting.