By: Vanessa Purdy
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.
This article was originally published on our old website at https://thenewspaper.ca/the-arts/clap-your-hands-say-meh/.