For a band who’s lost most of their members over the past few years, it would be easy to give up. Not for Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! though. The band, who are now a duo, includes founding member Alec Ounsworth and bassist Matt Wong. Their latest album, ‘The Tourist’ is set for release on 24th February.
Album opener, ‘The Pilot’ is delicate, drifty and soothing with jangly guitars creating an airy feel below the soft, sparkly synths. It radiates warmth and gives a good starting feel to the album. The track fades straight into ‘A Chance To Cure’ which compliments the previous track well, starting off with atmospheric, sparkly synths before the near isolated vocals come in. This track is far more electronic, and if anything stark in comparison to ‘The Pilot’. The vocal delivery becomes something reminiscent of early Everything Everything in ways, yet it’s still unique to Ounsworth.
‘Down (is where i want to be)’ has interlocking melodies that work between the bassline making for something rather unique. A minute in and the track drops to a more danceable tone with sawing, uncertain guitars which follow repetitive, yet dramatic vocals. It’s full of anxious, bumbling basslines and also builds once again into something anthemic before quickly dying off again. ‘Down…’ has parts where it feels like it’s going to go into a stereotypically indie-rock track, yet it feels suffocated, but becomes something exotic in its own right.
The catchily titled ‘Unfolding Above Celibate Moon (Los Angeles Nursery Rhyme)’ begins much more abruptly. The track makes use of very short sharp synths with contrasting sparkling synths that float throughout. It’s quite monotonous though, but then the track erupts into something far more urgent with a huge sound created with, unusually, a harmonica which is joined by a complimentary guitar solo before drifting off again.
The album starts to pick up a bit more from here though, with ‘Better Off’ being more upbeat, with a rather attractive bassline heightened by atmospheric synths. This track seems a lot more careful and attentive instrumentation-wise, but is carried away by the vocals. The warmth that the acoustic guitars exude throughout is rather blissful. So far, this is definitely the highlight of the album, but although in saying that, definitely the least experimental.
‘Fireproof’ starts with echoing guitars and vocals, with a random, erratic bassline. It starts to pick up throughout and it’s probably the most self assured of the whole album becoming even more confident from the lyrics ‘if i were you I’d love me, I would love me too…’ onwards.
Despite the album being incredibly different and experimental, by this point in the album, I started to get a bit tired of it. The following three tracks don’t really have much to say for themselves, apart from that ‘Loose Ends’ returns back to the acoustic guitar leading the track over synths like at the beginning of the album. It’s gentle, loose, with soothing melodies and delicate vocals. ‘Visiting Hours’ is much more stripped back with more acoustic guitars, but more strummed in comparison, much more relaxed. It also has a warmth to it and it actually feels like the end of an album.
Although there are lots of changes in style and it being very experimental, the album feels somewhat tedious in places and mildly uncertain, even if it is rather interesting. ‘The Tourist’ is the sound of a band re-finding themselves in a new situation, very much living up to its name though. Although in saying that, the album is definitely a grower. On second and third listen, I found myself “getting” the tracks more and would probably return to tracks such as album opener ‘The Pilot’, ‘Down (is where i want to be)’ and ‘Better Off’ if nothing else.