It’s hard when reviewing a Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! record not to refer back to their 2005 eponymous debut album which, at the time, seemed to herald the arrival of a new and joyously optimistic brand of indie, encapsulated in tracks like ‘The Skin Of My Yellow Country Teeth’. Over the years, the band have returned with three more studio albums, each one struggling to match expectation and often falling on deaf ears. I’m pleased to report that 2017’s The Tourist sees CYHSY! return to something like their former glories, though perhaps never quite capturing the heights of twelve years ago.
The problem with CYHSY!’s post 2005 output was that it failed to build on the promise of a debut that was full of eccentric and delightful nuance. Well, some of that eccentricity makes a welcome return here, even if it is somewhat less cohesive than the debut album, partly due to a dazzling range of styles presented.
Opener ‘The Pilot’ is standard CYHSY! jangly pop, complete with trademark Alec Ounsworth falsetto vocal. Meanwhile, ‘Down’ is far a far more sedate affair, boasting a ragged mixed tempo brass laden groove.
‘Unfolding Above Celibate Moon’ plods along without making too much of an impact, followed by the album’s two highlights, the upbeat pop of ‘Better Off’ and the languid pleasure that is ‘Fireproof’.
Thereafter it’s mostly a bit downhill, relatively speaking, though the closer ‘Visiting Hours’ has continued to grow on me after repeated listening and is now late emerging as one of my favourite tracks on the album, despite suffering a little from a very cluttered production.
Had this been CYHSY!’s debut record it would have met with positive reviews and expectations might have been more realistic for subsequent discs. As it is, it’s the most worthy successor to the eponymous 2005 album and gives renewed hope to fans of the band that one day, maybe, they’ll make good on that early promise and deliver a masterpiece.
I started NE:MM as a magazine back in August 2013 and took it online in March 2014. I have always had a passion for music, and a desire to help popularise music of the type I loved. That led me to promote as 'The Outsider' and 'Common People' until recently and who knows, the promoter bug may bite again soon. As I age I find my own tastes developing and so my enthusiasm now extends to classical, jazz/funk and metal, whereas it used to sit squarely in the pop/indie/folk box. I hope it's infectious and through the efforts of the many volunteer contributors to NE:MM I hope it helps you find new music that you can feel passionate about too.