Saturday, December 09, 2006
Sweeping The Nation Albums Of 2006: Number 23
Released in the very first week of the year in the UK, time, moving ever faster in the blog-driven media whirl, has already decided to look poorly upon Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! Whether it was the disappointing live shows, Alec Ounsworth's voice which takes some getting used to, the mad fairground organ announcer opening track or just that they weren't immediately the New Arcade Fire of brief synopsis, they seem all but deliberately overlooked already, overtaken in America by trends edging away from new wave shapes and in Britain, despite a top 30 album position, by the latest wave of Britpop. Which is a shame, as while the post-punk circus that enveloped it has moved on the actual music on the record, which sometimes feels like a secondary conceit when the webmags come a-calling, is often a thing of intrigue and cool menace.
The glib response was to compare CYHSY! to Talking Heads, and on paper you could easily file both as featuring nasal vocals, clipped guitars, indie disco basslines and four to the floor drumming. It's not all that much a straight comparison, though, as CYHSY! trade Byrne and co's fluid, stretching funkiness for a detached air even if the vocal quirks are sometimes much the same. Oddly, it gets better as it goes along, Over And Over Again (Lost And Found) literally having to find its feet as it goes along. The turning point is the buzzing organ and dancefloor bassline that envelopes the Modern Lovers-go-Violent Femmes conviction of The Skin Of My Yellow Country Teeth, which breaks into a joyous sprint for the line halfway through - and actually that Femmes comparison isn't that far wide of the mark, what with the shifting drum patterns, deliberate guitar lines and Ounsworth's actual vocal resemblance to Gordon Gano. Then we're coasting through Is This Love?'s pleading entreaties with synths stolen from Grandaddy's Sophtware Slump, In This Home On Ice attempting to make motorik-era Stereolab a Nuggets compilation concern and closer Upon This Tidal Wave Of Young Blood just settling into developing its busy groove amid Ounsworth's pleading about "child stars" when it audacious stops with the sound of needle pulled off record mid-bar. Self-recorded with straightforward lo-fi intent which works well up to a point, maybe at the end of the day this isn't so much the outstanding record straight off the blocks but the more than solid, only loosely categorisable opener that alludes to development and exciting potential in future releases modernity may not allow us to properly see.
LISTEN ON: The Skin Of My Yellow Country Teeth
WATCH ON: Never the most reliable of live bands, but they will continue to not make videos - In This Home On Ice on Conan; Is This Love? on Letterman
READ ON: They're not that much more forthcoming in interviews, but here's one anyway from Free Williamsburg