By: Vanessa Purdy

Clap Your Hands Say "Meh..."

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, “Hysterical”

This is the third release for these indie darlings, and it shows. They’ve reached

that place where experience meets with rejuvenated enthusiasm, and it’s pretty

enjoyable. The numerous side projects of several band members don’t seem to

have distracted CYHSY from what they’re about, and the four-year gap from their

sophomore album has served them well. Hysterical is definitely more fun than

their second album, but missing whatever magical ingredient people picked up on

with their first. Lead vocalist Alec Ounsworth, whose rough, energetic tenor could

be kind of grating, sounds much smoother. This makes for a more pleasant, albeit

more generic sound overall.

Hysterical is nothing revelatory, or really remarkable, but it’s polished and

sometimes danceable, especially for those of us who are a bit spastic. There are

a couple of more reflective songs, but they don’t take the tone down with them;

instead they round out the overall experience. Despite many high-energy songs,

overall there’s a lack of drive behind it, perhaps reflective of a lack of inspiration.

Listen to: Same Mistake, Siesta (For Snake)

St. Vincent, “Strange Mercy”

Unpredictable and unconventional, one gets the sense that Annie Clark (the

talented songstress behind St. Vincent) is constantly hovering between cool and

crazy. Strange Mercy is strange indeed; Clark’s haunting vocals are alternately

ethereal and earthly, evoking comparisons to Feist and Florence Welch. Lyrically

intriguing and musically layered, she manages to strike a good balance between

unique orchestrations and catchy compositions.

Not all of these songs are very melodic, and these are not particularly memorable,

but they are all interestingly and deliberately crafted. Even a cursory listen reveals

incredible dimension, a wholeness of sound. There’s a real depth here. Clark is a

powerhouse of ability; a match to her usually ambitious musical concepts.

Some momentum is lost close to the end, and ultimately one is left feeling like

the best of what St Vincent can bring is yet to come—but you want to be there

when it does. Clark seems like an artist’s artist, but, like an incomplete cadence,

there’s something unfinished that lingers after the album is over. All in all, it’s

weird, it’s almost wonderful, and it’s definitely worth a listen.

Listen to: Cruel, Champagne Year.

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