It’s six years since the release of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah‘s self-titled debut, where we first heard the distinctive high-pitched voice of Alec Ounsworth and the slightly angular, possibly even nerdy sound of the Brooklynites. Their second album went OTT on the angular bits and often came off as if they’d joined a circus and run away so it was with a sideways, sheepish glance we looked at their third LP, Hysterical.
As if to answer those tentative approaches the album begins punching way above its weight. The opener ‘Same Mistake’ begins with a swelling, fast-pulsed tale of open roads and virgins with tattoos. Ounsworth is pouring out lyrics and if you’re fast you can catch great lines such as “The shots behind the factory / are first frightening / but it’s just kids beginning / to make the same mistakes”, as he drags the words out of himself. In fact from first to last the lyrical content is streets ahead, and great observations and clever couplets litter all the tracks. The title track itself takes a synth heavy intro into a dark beat and the chorus has tapped into some of those chord changes that bypass logic. It’s both frenetic and rhythm driven and it’s certainly the song you want playing when you do an OJ and end up in a car chase.
The sounds that CSHSY have been playing with over the last six or so years have been reined in and rounded a bit more, and they still let the drums and bass lead much of the songs. The music itself has come back from the fringes, back even past where their first popular album stood to a sound throughout that’s so easy to love. Any lulls on the album are swiftly dealt with – the second quarter seems to drag a little especially after the intro hat-trick and ‘Yesterday, Never’ is a meaty, pounding track which lifts us wide-awake into the second half.
The album is full of catchy melodies, those clever turns of phrase (and there’s plenty) and changes of chord so interest never really wanes and before you know it you’re at the beautiful closing track ‘Adam’s Plane’ which could also work as a Rufus Wainwright twist on a destructive love. It’s an ideal closer to an album that flows almost flawlessly through its 12 tracks. Reinvented somewhat and standing firm on new ground CYHSY’s Hysterical is smart, super addictive and it pulses along effortlessly. Their third and best comes highly recommended.