So WordPress notified me today that I haven’t released anything in a while and I was like, ‘Ok, ok, dude, it’s not like we’re in a monogamous relationship, I do have a life outside of the blog, ok?” But then WordPress started to cry and was all like, “You could have at least called to tell me you’re ok” and what can you do, ey?
I am a gigantic monstrous sucker for a good intro song and “Only Run”, the 4th album, has one of the most surprising and unusual openers for any Clap Your Hands Say Yeah!-fan because it feels like they listened to a lot of 80s indie-pop since their last record (well, since the last studio album at least, as there was an EP that hinted at the new-found love for the bleep-bloop-bleep).
“As always” is gorgeous and opens with heavy synthesizers and laser beams only to weigh into a guitar-tastic hymn and then drift off into a Bowie-esque acoustic fog that slowly simmers down to make way for the next song. THAT’s a bloody great opening for any album but especially for these guys who usually don’t start that dramatic.
It should be no surprise that this sound is so different because since 2012, the former quintet has shrunken down to a duo and nearly a solo act, with only Alec Ounsworth and Sean Greenhalg staying on which on itself is a little sad because this band seemed so in-sync and happy to play together but let’s hope they still BBQ together and share funny cat-videos.
Ok, so back to this new path for this group-outfit that shrunk into a tiny wardrobe in the backstage area of a dingy pub. This album is a lot more polished and focused than previous albums. Where older albums always liked the rough and fuzzy chaos of New York circa 1978, this album is knee-deep in the 80s and winds its way through drum programs and synthies that seem to dissolve somewhere between Ounsworth’s echoing voice and some heavy bass-lines buzzing in the background.
As someone of many who dearly wanted to love “Hysterical”, released in 2011, but eventually was a little underwhelmed, this is a beautiful experiment for Ounsworth and Greenhalg who are bold enough to try something different after all their safety boats have sailed away. Whether it still is a Clap Your Hands Say Yeah!-album…well…without Ounsworth’s voice it probably wouldn’t be recognizable as such and given that he already tried out his solo act under several monikers (including the fancy name “Flashy Python”), one wonders if it would have helped this album more if it would have been released under a different name but aside from that, this is a great use of synthies, gorgeous melodies (“Little Moments” is definitely a song that can and probably will grow on a lot of people) and a lot more melancholy than we are used to – less clapping, more swaying, I say!