I know I shouldn’t judge a band based on their name, but sometimes, it’s impossible not to. When a band is pompous enough to name themselves …and They Will Know Us By the Trail of the Dead, I can’t justify finding time to listen to whatever verbose, overblown music they may or may not make. But when it comes to Clap Your Hands and Say Yeah, it’s all about the mood I’m in when I hear the name. Because I could see this name evoking nightmares of the most aggravating hipster bullshit, or something light and fun. I must have been in a good mood today, because when they popped up on the Spotify Discover page, their self titled album seemed to exude light fun.
Then, Clap Your Hands! kicked in, sounding like a cross between a demented circus freak show ring master, and a preacher in a demented tent revival church. Not what I expected, not something I’ll probably ever listen to again, yet kind of cool and interesting in its weirdness.
Ah, Let the Cool Goddess Rust Away, there’s the jangled guitars, 4/4 boring bass line, nasal vocals and all around mid 2000s indie preciousness I expected from a band called Clap Your Hands and Say Yeah. And while there was a little edge to the album opener, Over and Over Again (Lost and Found) successfully smooths that completely away, doubling down on that precious sound, with some twee lightness to add.
That probably sounds like I’m shitting on this album. Or at the very least, dismissing it. But I don’t mean any of those things in the pejorative. Like my reaction to their name, my reaction to this kind of sound purely depends on the mood I’m in. Sometimes, this gentle approach to guitar ‘rock’ is a nice change from my usual punk rock ear assaults. And luckily, for the mood I’m on today, this album offers up plenty of it.
The new millennium has birthed a lot of these gentle guitar based bands. The kinds of bangs that look like they’re happy to rock to a certain extent, as long as it doesn’t dirty their Wes Anderson-like outfits or mess their meticulously styled hair. Love this music, hate it, or just kind of shrug at it like I do, you can’t deny the impact it’s had on popular rock in the last decade or so.
And even when I absolutely detest it, I think I could still appreciate the fact that bands like Clap Your Hands and Say Yeah and Vampire Weekend have proven that even after all these decades, there’s still things to be done and new sounds to be made with a traditional guitar band line up.