Monday, November 21, 2011

Hysterical - Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

V2 Records.

SCQ Rating: 85%

Although I wouldn’t go so far as to say that every Clap Your Hands Say Yeah fan spent four years anticipating a new record, I will argue that every fan spent four years reevaluating what sent the Philly five-piece off the rails. Some Loud Thunder and, more specifically, its reception made mincemeat of the first tried-and-true blog-band. And while that sort of terrifyingly quick rise and fall is deemed commonplace for bands here in 2011, the harsh dive brought on by Some Loud Thunder in early 2007 was unfairly embellished. A hiatus was announced, Ounsworth put out a solo album and certain members took to soundtrack work; the band splintered into different projects and years passed.

Of those four years, I’ve spent probably ten minutes in varied social circles either defending or confirming the existence of a second CYHSY record called Some Loud Thunder. A few rough cuts aside, the sophomore worked in nudging die-hard fans toward an even quirkier shade of pop than anything on 2005’s self-titled debut. Hysterical, perhaps unsurprisingly, finds the band offering refunds, backtracking on their erratic alleyways in favour of a full-blooded and comprehensive indie-rock record. The soaring synth and glimmering guitar filling opener ‘Same Mistake’ are no lark; Clap Your Hands Say Yeah have chosen to assimilate themselves to the whims of a musical climate still knee-deep in 80s pomp. It suits them quite well. A pretty nostalgia may cloud ‘Idiot’ and ‘Misspent Youth’ in thick production but the songs beneath maintain enough muscle to fend for themselves. Ounsworth crests his signature warble with impressive stateliness over ‘The Witness’ Dull Surprise’’s multitracked climax while ‘Into Your Alien Arms’ contains the most enjoyably discordant guitar solo of the entire CYHSY catalog.

The anxiety of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah’s bumpy ride informs Hysterical’s polished approach, sure, but Ounsworth and Co. have stepped up with some of their best material yet. Although the disc verges on the odd synth overdose, it’s the bands’ longstanding trademarks that ensure plentiful highlights. By the time the epic ‘Adam’s Plane’ crashes to a halt, it’s worth considering the weight and longevity of trends. The band’s debut was hindered by neither expectation nor trends; it simply popped up from the ether. Hysterical, on the other hand, shows up on the unfavorable side of time and buzz but proves every bit as thrilling.

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