On The Brink Of Madness
Continuing with the mind frame that nothing in life should be easy, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah return with the follow up to last years much hyped debut effort. Almost exactly a year after the experimental lo-fi quintet were engulfed in a vacuum of hype and fuss, they now mark their return with a more low key entrance, but one that is none the less intriguing and certainly not without its eccentric charm. Yes, the hype has vanished slightly but the East Coast quintet are still determined to craft a vigorous work out for your ears, producing an album that demands your attention from start to finish and which insures you're far from being a passive bystander.
Draped in a cloak of distorted noise and accompanied by singer Alec Ounsworth's scratchy yelps that wail and beseech, Sound Loud Thunder picks up from where CYHSY's debut offering left off with the wacky and surreal opening title track. Immediately its business as usual for the Boston band as lyrics that seem incompressible merge with an off-kilter sound that dares to spiral out of control at any given chance. It's a shambolic mess that should collapse around the indie quintet's ears in magnificent style but gradually as you begin to comprehend the eccentric brilliance of the band, 'Sound Loud Thunder' unbelievably transforms into a beautiful myriad of instruments and vocals that weave their way into your affections. And herein lies the key to appreciating CYHSY; time and patience are the required elements meaning that this is an album that you need to listen to quite a few times to fully appreciate and listen some more. Only after you've worked for it do the charms of 'Emily Jean Stock' and 'Yankee Go Home' start to reveal themselves as the weird and wacky sound of the band starts to become highly addictive and only then do the even the more ludicrous offerings like 'Satan Said Dance' begin to sound as catchy as a pop fuelled hit leaving your brain yelling this shouldn't work whilst your ears suddenly start to realise just why it actually does.
'Sound Loud Thunder' is not without its pitfalls however and precariously rests on a knife's edge, balancing uncertainly on the possibility of falling uncontrollably into an abyss of ludicrously abysmal noise. Whilst on the whole CYHSY manage astonishingly to stand firmly on the side of pure unique genius with just a mere hint of eccentric weirdness, some tracks do succumb to the perils of simply being too over the top, of being too strange, detracting slightly from the brilliance of the overall album and revealing tracks that perhaps only the purist fan will welcome.
For those who can keep up the pace and who surrender to the strange allure of singer Alec Ounsworth's yelping shrieks that titter on the brink of collapse, there are rewards a plenty to be gained. For others, Sound Loud Thunder can resemble a mass of incomprehensible chaos sent to reek havoc on your ears. In the end perseverance is essential and with a little patience the layers of CYHSY start to inexplicably peel to reveal a band bursting with vibrancy and originality, a band that embrace the weird and unusual before repackaging it tenderly for others to consume whilst geniusly straddling the gulf between shambolically absurd and wonderfully weird with such ease and grace we might as well give into their unique magnetism now.