Playing in a so-called "buzz band" can be both a blessing and a curse. The perceived boom starts out as nothing more than electronic whispers from the blogosphere, making grandoise claims about "the next big thing". They hail the live performances as legendary. The first album is always praised as the best new album of the past five years at least, making the bar impossibly high for the follow-up. And when that sophomore album finally drops, it is always derided as an even more grandoise failure. Then, the band just struggles to reclaim the glory and acclaim that it once had, putting a tremendous strain on themselves. Some make it back to the promised land and some don't. CYHSY are the original blog-darling band, making it big with their 2005 self-titled debut and subsequently dropping off the radar.
The band's debut was the right album at the right time. It mixed dancey beats with catchy synth riffs and simple guitar licks. It was fun, kicking off with a carnival organ telling us to clap our hands, and we obliged. More importantly than that, the album was just good. It felt effortless. The follow-up, Some Loud Thunder
, did not. It felt forced, like the band was trying too hard to be something that they're not. Some songs fell flat in their construction, just leaving the listener wanting something more. Or better yet, something different. Others, like "Satan Said Dance," felt too chaotic, too all-over the place with its dissonant tones and scattered keyboards. Some Loud Thunder
played through as a collection of songs rather than an album. It didn't feel unified in the same way that their debut did.
After trying to a follow up to Some Loud Thunder
years ago and coming away with nothing to show for it, the Brooklyn based Clap Your Hands Say Yeah threw in the towel with many thinking that they were done for good. But the five are back with a fresh batch of tunes to get your toes tapping and heads bopping. Hysterical
is a return to what made people love Clap Your Hands Say Yeah in the first place. It's catchy, it's fun, and it's good. The band's return form also marks a good step forward for them.
The album kicks off with "Same Mistake," a lively tune propelled forward by the open and close of drummer Sean Greenhalgh's high hat. The synth comes to life immediately with an atmospheric riff that will catch even a jaded listener's ear. It then moves effortlessly into the title track which finds the band playing more aggressively, as if trying to make up for their mistakes. "There's no sense in even trying," singer Alec Ounsworth slurs, obviously not knowing how wrong he is when making tracks like this. "Maniac" finds the band bringing in horns and strings to flesh out the sound on a rollicking track that shows them at their most exuberant, leaving the moodier sound of previous efforts behind and embracing their poppier side on this track. "Into Your Alien Arms" sounds like a great song that The Cure never wrote, with the synth and harmonies working together to create an environment for listener to get lost in.
The album plays through smoothly with everything that you would expect from Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. It feels united, a real album and not a bunch of songs thrown together. The songs are tighter and not as sprawling. They know where they want to go, and they know how to get there. The synth riffs are addicting and fun, the drums stomp and push the songs forward. It's a wonderful return to form for a band that many thought was gone for good.