Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Metro, London

Metro, London

In the parallel universe of blogs and downloading, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah are the new kings. Like Arctic Monkeys before them, the Brooklyn-based quintet targeted the impressionable minds and fluctuating hearts of the new taste-makers - internet users. But laying their musings at the feet of file-sharers wasn't enough. They have also sold 25,000 copies of their self-titled, self-released debut album through their website - and found themselves in the unenviable role of frenzied post boys as well.

Tickets for their UK tour have disappeared faster than Stella McCartney dresses from H&M. This "secret" gig is the warm-up, and expectations are high. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah sound like Arcade Fire fronted by David Byrne, their expansive, melodic songs frosted with frightening intensity. There are hints of the Strokes and Kings of Leon too, in the gently chugging guitars that burst into vengeful rhythms, circling the distinctive vocals of Alan Ounsworth, a man for whom the raising of an eyebrow counts as personality.

Ounsworth yelps, shrieks and staggers over words until they turn into a death rattle. His delivery is hypnotic, the quicksand melancholy of Over and Over Again (Lost and Found) and Is This Love? complicit and strange. Squelchy synths and breezy harmonies only heighten his menace; in Satan, he sounds as though he's barking back at a disobedient dog, complete with a dead-eyed stare.

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, however, are proof that entrepreneurial spirit doesn't make for showbiz. They've only been together since early last year and it shows. Though keyboardist, guitarist and tambourine shaker Robbie Guertin throws himself about with abandon, bearded brothers Lee and Tyler Sargent barely raise a smile. Moments between songs are painfully awkward as silence falls over the crowd and the band. Still, the songs live up to the hype; now they just have to sell themselves.

· At the Barfly, Cardiff, tonight. Box office: 0870 907 0999. Then touring.


Betty Clarke

The GuardianTramp

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