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4.2 out of 5 stars6
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon September 20, 2011
3.5 stars

There is a "holy grail" for discerning music fans, a pursuit that demands a never-ending quest for that band which enters the zeitgeist and somehow builds on the legacy of Talking Heads and takes it forward. David Byrne's seminal outfit were smart, intellectual, erudite, boundary busting and most of all cool as permafrost with unit sales to match. Was it any wonder that they were favourite group of Bret Easton Ellis's demented anti hero Patrick Bateman in the uber black comedy "American Psycho"? In 2006 the Brooklyn five piece "Clap your Hands and Say Yeah" (CYHSY) started a ramshackle DIY internet operation to ship their album from their front room and all of a sudden become a sensation. The ghost of Talking Heads was invoked with David Byrne and David Bowie almost falling over themselves to endorse their eponymous self titled debut. This was entirely understandable since on songs like "Over and Over again (lost and found)" and the "The Skin Of My Yellow County Teeth" they produced urbane sparkling pop music with Alec Ounsworth's vocals straying dangerously close to Byrne's but staying the right side of pastiche. It all promised a future so bright that they needed to wear shades.

Sadly you know what comes next. In 2007 the CYHSY released their second album "Some loud thunder" and it was a truly sorry sophomore stinker and they slipped from view. After a four year gap it would be pleasing to report that their third proper album "Hysterical" marks a return to the diamond form of their debut but not quite. Still it is a very accomplished effort and one, which does take them much closer to the mainstream following the experimental mish mash of "Some Loud Thunder". Opener "Same mistake" is packed with jingling guitars, pounding drums and concrete slabs of synths. It is an exhilarating start but better immediately follows with the excellent title track a real powerhouse which echoes the grandeur of the Arcade Fire and has "live encore" stamped all over it. The pace slows dramatically for the nice Spectorish melancholy of "Misspent Youth" that also finds a companion in the later proggy "Siesta (for snake)". Alas the train leaves the track on the frantic "Maniac" which is a misstep and as irritating as a large bluebottle in the kitchen when cooking dinner. This is also compounded by the problem that many songs on the album follow a similar pattern and the search for shades is an issue although the gentle "In a motel" one of the albums highlights does partially address this deficiency. Alas "Yesterday, never" finds them rummaging around in the wardrobe and finding a garment that carries a strong whiff of the Strokes, equally "Ketamine and Ecstasy" is a formula CYHSY taken from a template they have used far too often.

It is on the final two tracks however where the band worry less about mainstream appeal and more about songs that things come together in a way that acts as a clear pointer for their future direction. Penultimate track "the Witness's Dull Surprise" is a melodic piano driven wonder and accompanied by Ounsworth's best vocal conveying latent regret and building to a thumping driving conclusion. Finally "Adams plane" is a seven minute plus epic which shows that the band can offer up songs of emotional substance which build to an explosive climax of almost Wilco style "Hotel Yankee Foxtrot" era proportions. On balance "Hysterical" is a welcome return for a band that could have easily hung up their tools and walked away. Granted they suffer somewhat in comparisons to newer US bands such as War on Drugs, White Denim and Dirty Projectors who have effectively marked their territory in the long four year hiatus, but "Hysterical" marks a real effort to regain lost ground and for the large part it succeeds.
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on April 12, 2012
Clap Your Hands came in with a huge bang on their self-titled album. What followed was a soft whimper that made a lot of people wonder if they truly had lost all that they had in one fell sweep. Hysterical is a step back to catchy tunes, wonderfully odd lyrics and that certain light sound that was present on Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. This time around the production value is much higher than either of the previous albums (thanks to John Congleton, who also fronts The Paper Chase) and the songs are much more accessible as a result. Ounsworth's vocals are cleaner and easier to make out. There is a heavier use of synths and they produce an echoey atmosphere throughout that never really gives up (especially on Idiot, which is by far my favorite track on the album). However this album may require a 2nd or 3rd listen to really kick in, as the songs can sound similar to each other in one go. This has reimbursed my faith in the band, and I'm interested to see where they will go next.
Favorite Tracks: Same Mistake, Misspent Youth, Idiot, Ketamine and Ecstasy, and Adam's Plane
Overall Rating: 8 or 4/5
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on January 19, 2014
If you’re a fan of XTC you no doubt have the capacity to dig what I can only find irritating and stressful. Vocals that were fun for but a moment, quickly become annoying and overbearing, like an effects peddle that’s just been overused, especially when coupled with their redundant long one note song lead-outs and abrupt endings. I’ve tried hard with this band, and with three albums under their belts, and an equal number of EP’s, I still can’t put together more than eight songs that I find worthy, and even when I do, I end up saying, “Na ...” unable to justify the iPod space, burning those tracks to disc, or even committing them to cassette tape.

“So,” I hear you ask, “just what brought you this far with Clap Your Hands?” And to that, all I can to is hand you a copy of the brilliant movie The Great Buck Howard, in which the band sings “Telling The Truth & Going Away,” a stylish bit of Dylan-esq wanderlust that’s not featured on any album, and will have you too investigating this strange little band in hopes of finding a bit more of this new attitude ... though walking away, hands thrust deeply into your pockets, a bit peeved that you didn’t listen to me, and wishing you had any of that money and time back, even to spend it on a burger and a coke.

Review by Jenell Kesler
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on July 3, 2013
At the first listen it grabs you. After listening to it a few times you will find yourself craving to listen to these songs throughout the day.
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on October 20, 2015
great cd
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on October 23, 2015
Much better than Some Loud Thunder, they've gone back to form on this release. I can listen to this as often as I listen to their debut album. Has that "magic" that made their first album so good, so give Clap Your Hands Say Yeah another chance and buy this!
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