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Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

Some bands never learn. After being nearly universally criticized for the wheezy opening track ("Clap Your Hands") from its eponymous debut, you would think Clap Your Hands Say Yeah would avoid a repeat. Nope. "Some Loud Thunder," the titular opener this time around, is a glorious pop song drowned in fuzzy distortion and heavy bass. A bold move, yes, but it works for CYHSY; the group has perfectly wedded its DIY approach with a good ear for offbeat melody.

Despite the initial similarities, Some Loud Thunder is a surprising--if enjoyable--change of pace from the group's ebullient debut. Working with producer Dave Fridmann (Flaming Lips, Sleater-Kinney), the band borrows liberally from Fridmann's bag o' tricks (e.g., melding psychedelica with spaced-out rock). Rather than serving as a crutch, this makes the group's music richer if more demanding.

Overall, CYHSY exhibit an astounding maturity in its songwriting abilities, with songs like the buoyant "Emily Jean Stock" and the twinkling "Mama, Won't You Keep Those Castles in the Air and Burning?" organically evolving into moments of blissful pop. Save an instrumental and the barely-there ditty "Arm and Hammer," Some Loud Thunder may be a stronger outing than the group's infectious debut.

From the chorus of "Yankee Go Home," a loveable blast of cymbal crashes, oscillating rhythm and singer Alec Ounsworth's cracked pipes, to closer "Five Easy Pieces," with its melodic wisps of hazy vocals, accordion and harmonica, CYHSY defies the sophomore slump in truly shambolic style.

More by Michael Petitti

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