Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

They sound like they can't be bothered but there's pop nous under the Brooklyn boys' studied cool, says Craig McLean

The band Teenage Fanclub have a song called 'Heavy Metal'. It's a sludgy, instrumental thing, from their first album A Catholic Education, from when they wanted to be Dinosaur Jr. It sounded like a jam, or a dirge even. It sounded like they couldn't be bothered.

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah also have a song called 'Heavy Metal'. It's a heads-down, sugar-pop song, with enthusiastic harmonica and (what sounds like) toy tambourine being bashed by a deranged toddler. But then the vocals kick in and it seems like this Brooklyn five-piece can't be bothered either. Singer Alec Ounsworth is the Strokes's Julian Casablancas after root canal treatment: mumbling, hardly there, barely coherent. Great. Just what the world needed. Another bunch of too-cool-for-school New York guitar-slingers.

But in much the same way that the Arcade Fire album gradually revealed its magnificence, so the Clappies (the Clappers? The Clap?) know that if you have, at heart, great ideas, clarity can wait. The good tunes will out.

This wonderful record begins with the 108 seconds-long 'Clap Your Hands!', which comprises shouting through a megaphone and Sale of the Century-style organ. It's the band's 'roll up, roll up' moment, an introduction to a carnival of delights. None of the following 10 tracks disappoints. 'Sunshine and Clouds (and Everything Proud)' is a gorgeous instrumental, seemingly conjured from the pings of clock alarms and springs. 'The Skin of my Yellow Country Teeth' would make a great title for a Cormac McCarthy novella, but will do for now as a country-psychedelic hoedown. 'In This Home on Ice', neatly, sounds like Teenage Fanclub ('Star Sign' to be specific).

By the closing 'Upon This Tidal Wave of Young Blood', wherein the Clap do their best Talking Heads impersonation, Ounsworth's weary delivery has become a thing of incantatory beauty, and his band have emerged as the most inventive US outfit since Yeah Yeah Yeahs.Brilliantly OTT but cleverly understated, this is an album to dance around to and to cherish.

Download: 'Sunshine and Clouds ...'; 'In This Home on Ice'


Craig McLean

The GuardianTramp

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