thu 07/07/2022

CD: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - The Tourist | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - The Tourist

CD: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - The Tourist

Can Alec Ounsworth's hipster outfit justify a fifth outing?

'It's the vocals that, when they work, really lift the album'

There was a time, a decade or so ago, when US indie bands would adopt such idiosyncratic names it almost felt like a ploy to stop them selling out. No band epitomised this trend more than Brooklyn's Clap Your Hands Say Yeah.

But whilst CYHSY managed to avoid crossing over into the mainstream, their self-released debut did become a cult hit. A biggish one. Big enough cast a shadow over the band's career. And 12 years on, fans are still asking whether they can escape it.

The Tourist certainly makes a good fist of gently moving things on. More impressively it does so whilst basically staying within the same musical framework. When, back in 2014, singer Alec Ounsworth flirted with bedsit-electronica, the results were so-so. Now  and as the only remaining band member  he's back to tinkering with lo-fi, whilst peppering it with newer influences. "The Pilot", for instance, contains hints of melodic Americana whilst "The Vanity of Trying" blends in Ounsworth's electronic influences.

Two characteristics set The Tourist's better songs apart  punchy bass lines and intense, feverish melodies. On "The Vanity of Trying" producer Matt Wong's bass has strong echoes of Tyler Sargent's old signature bass lines. But it's the vocals that, when they work, really lift the album. Largely gone is that offputting, adenoidal quality. Instead, we have nervous energy. We hear it on "Loose Ends" and "Ambulance Chaser" and when Ounsworth really lets rip it makes your skin tingle. Unfortunately, at the other end of the quality scale, there's a fair amount of generic filler. The existence of such ploddy elements coupled with sub-par lyrics like "the elastic of my slapstick/ seems to snap down on your fears" ("Fireproof") has already resulted in a somewhat meh reception from certain hip blogs. That's a little unfair. There's plenty here to really relish.

Strong bass lines and feverish melodies set the better songs apart


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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