Clap Your Hands say Yeah
Some Loud Thunder, 10th Anniversary Edition, Remastered, 180g Black Vinyl
If Some Loud Thunder isn't as consistent as the debut, it's an adequate follow-up that contains a handful of fantastic songs, a handful of uneven ones, and a handful of duds. Famed producer Dave Fridmann (Flaming Lips, Mercury Rev, Mogwai) brings his usual touch to the album-- it's denser than the debut, with even more towering harmonies. The only time Fridmann does the band a disservice is on the title track, which opens the record with the same sort of vague antagonism with which "Clap Your Hands!" kicked off the debut. "Some Loud Thunder" seems like a solid, peppy indie rock song, but it's such a mess that it's hard to tell for sure-- pickled in ugly distortion, it sounds like a bad rip. (Ounsworth claims the album is intended to be heard on vinyl; perhaps it works better there.) As a mission statement and a fuck-off, "Some Loud Thunder" is even more effective than "Clap Your Hands!": The latter was obviously intended to be daunting, while the former is rich with ambiguity. Was it meant to sound shitty or did it just turn out that way? Regardless, it's a drag to listen to.
The most engaging songs here zero in on what CYHSY do best: cracked, brassy vocals, shaggy rhythms, and luxuriant melodies. The flickering luau-rock of "Mama, Won't You Keep Them Castles in the Air and Burning?" finds Ounsworth's clarion voice at its most affecting, eventually washing out in a tide of woozy harmonies. "Love Song No. 7", with its slithering vocal line and stark piano, is distinct from the band's usual fizzy shimmer; it's darker and finer than anything else on the record. "Underwater (You and Me)" profits from its density, with tight coils of reverbed guitar spring-loading the bouncy melody. These tracks find CYHSY tweaking their template with more sumptuous, Fridmann-assisted layers, with excellent results.