Wichita Recordings – 2006 – 38 minutes ****
Much has been made in the music press of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah's emergence via the praise of bloggers and the Brooklyn band's DIY approach to making it in the music business.
Mere months ago US music fans could order a copy of the band's debut and have it packaged and posted by CYHSY themselves, all without the aid of a record label or publicist.
The word of bloggers has now been followed by a tidal wave of critical acclaim that has propelled the band into the limelight.
On the evidence of this self-titled debut, this praise is indeed deserved. It begins with a self-referencing carnival introduction that could be a homage to the opening to 'Sgt Pepper's...'.
The first song proper, 'Let the Cool Goddess Rust Away', reveals the particular intonation of singer Alec Ounsworth's voice that has been a turnoff for some but sounds to this ear emotional and heartfelt.
It's backed by harmony vocals and solid electric guitar, including an extended outro that is reminiscent of Interpol's work. 'Over & Over Again (Lost & Found)' is at once brisker and moodier, with electric guitars running under plaintive words.
The bright and brief 'Sunshine & Clouds (And Everything Proud)' picks up the circus theme again, offering a trinket box tune that acts as an intro to the stand out track of the album that follows. 'Details of the War' unfolds gradually, allowing Ounsworth's vocals to build to an affecting crescendo alongside more Interpol-esque strong guitar lines.
'The Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth' features percussive guitar strumming that sounds like something The Strokes might produce. Up tempo tale of romance 'Is This Love?' makes much use of swirling backing vocals that point to the protagonist's giddy excitement. A short guitar study, 'Blue Turning Gray', leads into another highlight, the tuneful and rousing 'In This Home on Ice'.
'Upon This Tidal Wave Of Young Blood' finishes the record on an upbeat, acoustic flourish, with a drive along, alt.country vibe that is probably the source of comparisons some have made to Wilco.
Overall, while the tag of 'Arcade Fire of 2006' that is being tossed around several bands including CYHSY will do them no harm, this debut shows a rockier, more guitar-driven emphasis that could also draw them fans from more mainstream rock circles.
Tracklisting: Clap Your Hands! - Let the Cool Goddess Rust Away - Over and Over Again (Lost & Found) - Sunshine & Clouds (And Everything Proud) - Details of the War - The Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth - Is This Love? - Heavy Metal - Blue Turning Gray - In This Home On Ice - Gimme Some Salt - Upon This Tidal Wave of Young Blood.