Monday, March 5, 2007

On Second Thought

So a couple months ago Clap your Hands Say Yeah released the highly anticipated follow-up to their self-titled debut masterpiece. Initially I had no patience for Some Loud Thunder - Dave Friddman's production flourishes got on my nerves, and I felt like there was a concerted effort to smudge out all melody and vocals in an attempt to mask lyrical deficiencies. And I still feel that way about many of the songs, but some recent listens have helped some of those blurred hooks shine though. The first half of the record in particular is pretty strong, even though "Satan Said Dance" has about 100 ideas more than 1 song can handle. The second half is quite hazardous though, beginning with the inconsequential segue "Upon Encountering the Crippled Elephant". "Goodbye to the Mother and the Cove" is at first inviting, but once you realize nothing is changing throughout its nearly 6 minute runtime, you kind of zone out. Things climax with Underwater (You and Me)", which along with "Mama, Won't You Keep Those Castles in the Air & Burning?", are the only 2 songs that can stand up with best moments on their debut. And the album really should have ended with "Underwater". The closer "Five Easy Pieces" is a perfect example of my problems with many songs on the album - it features a pretty guitar melody and harmonica line, but is overwrought with vocal manipulation and blurred sonics, in addition to stretching out about 4 minutes too long. So yes, I still don't think the album is a total success, but I give the band credit for making what is certainly a less accessible follow-up to a wildly successful first album, as well as experimenting with electronics and new ideas. I'd still only give it around a C+, but that is more than admirable for what will probably end up being a transitional album.

So what do you think? Have you heard it? Any thoughts?

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