For all intents and purposes, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah has always been the vision of lead singer/songwriter Alec Ounsworth. However, with the departure of original drummer Sean Greenhalgh after 2014's Only Run, CYHSY technically became the sole creative property of Ounsworth. It is his voice, both literally and creatively, that permeates all of the band's fifth studio album, 2017's The Tourist. Recorded, written, and performed by Ounsworth alone, the album gains some semblance of collaborative continuity via the presence of Mercury Rev's Dave Fridmann, who mixed the album and who previously worked on Only Run and the group's 2007 effort, Some Loud Thunder. Primarily, you get the sense that CYHSY's sanguine, intricately crafted sound has finally been boiled down to Ounsworth's own singularly poetic, nasal-pitched aesthetic. However, that doesn't mean that the band's sound has undergone any major transformation. As on past CYHSY albums, cuts like "Down (Is Where I Want to Be)," "Better Off," and "The Vanity of Trying" still bring to mind a combination of Elliott Smith's ruminative folk, Echo & the Bunnymen's moody '80s rock, and a bit of Taking Tiger Mountain-era Brian Eno. There's a tactile, organic quality to many of the tracks here, such as on "Unfolding Above Celibate Moon (Los Angeles Nursery Rhyme)," in which Ounsworth, doing his best Bob Dylanesque coo, sings of the travails of Hollywood life, his voice set against a buoyant analog-sounding keyboard riff that has the cadence of an astronaut skipping weightless across the surface of the Moon. Emphatically, the song ends with a yearning burst of harmonica and fuzz-soaked guitar squelch, as if Ounsworth were some kind of one-man psych-rock band. Similarly, he splits the difference between kinetic, Talking Heads-style nerd-funk and Radiohead-esque art rock fantasia on the dancy "Fireproof," layering a multi-tracked vocal melody, kinetic rubber-band guitars, and rhythmic finger-snap accents onto a shimmery synth backdrop. While the holistic craftsmanship of Ounsworth's musicality is impressive, ultimately it's his anguished, romantic vocal croon that sticks with you on The Tourist, ever dichotomously imbued with both a deep sense of loneliness and a pop-centric sense of self-determination.
|Label:||Clap Your Hands Cyhs|