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Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - New Fragility Music Album Reviews

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - New Fragility Music Album Reviews
Alec Ounsworth’s latest album is a world of divorce, substance abuse, callous indifference to murder, and also bittersweet nostalgia for that bygone indie-rock era that gave him a platform in the first place.

Alec Ounsworth admits to having written only one political Clap Your Hands Say Yeah song in the band’s previous 15 years of existence—though, to be fair, it’s one of his most popular, 2005’s “Upon This Tidal Wave of Young Blood.” Ounsworth has never been a particularly candid lyricist either, his intentions usually assumed through his staunch commitment to independence and occasional antagonistic streak. These qualities once epitomized an indie-rock era of peak preciousness and pacifism, and taking this same approach on CYHSY’s first album since 2017’s The Tourist wouldn’t just be dated, it’s basically inconceivable; artists, or really any empathetic being, are expected to be engaged, enraged, and open to expressing exactly how that feels. Ounsworth is no longer living in the abstract on New Fragility, the first CYHSY album in dialog with the outside world—and it’s a world of divorce, substance abuse, callous indifference to murder, and also bittersweet nostalgia for that bygone indie-rock era that gave him a platform in the first place.
Of course, your Facebook feed since 2016 tells you how this might go: being newly emboldened to say something about the accelerated decline of America doesn’t equate to having something new or profound to add. “Thousand Oaks” is an impassioned and righteous response to “an American massacre in Southern California,” inspired by the mass shooting at Borderline Bar and Grille that left 12 dead and 16 more injured. But like nearly all impassioned and righteous songs written in response to mass shootings, “Thousand Oaks” makes a sarcastic invocation of “thoughts and prayers” that feels as limp and cliché as the real thing, if exponentially less pernicious. Yet with stories like the ones in “Thousand Oaks,” Ounsworth’s point about how quickly mass casualties are forgotten only becomes more poignant.

He’s more compelling when taking an oblique approach in his politics. On “Hesitating Nation,” Ounsworth’s nervy delivery captures a kind of exhaustion that will feel familiar to just about anyone alive today. “All of god’s children are useless to me now,” Ounsworth moans midway through, merging his newfound idealistic zeal with the breathless urgency of CHYSY’s beloved debut.

New Fragility finds many other ways to impart Ounsworth’s contrarianism. Its title is taken from an essay by Twitter’s newfound bête noire David Foster Wallace. For the most part, New Fragility fixates on specific and footnoted memories of a devastating relationship, the kind of personal crises that refused to be put on hold no matter the threat of extinction-level events. The most striking lyrics are shot through with a startling bitterness at an ex’s expense: “You made a scene there at the festival/A European spectacle,” “I miss that lazy comedy of pulling you off the lawn.” But Ounsworth’s autonomy also results in “Went Looking For Trouble” getting completely derailed by the line, “the rain is falling and chases us like a rapist,” which is hardly a strong enough simile to justify itself.

On the whole, Ounsworth’s candor gives New Fragility a necessary charge as he leans into balladry. His voice is a natural fit for the theater: piercing, dramatic, and capable of far more emotional modulation than would’ve been expected in 2005. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah has forever been a DIY indie rock band, but the bravura vocal runs and ornate arrangements of “Went Looking For Trouble,” “Mirror Song,” and “Innocent Weight” prove Ounsworth’s visions go far beyond that. But he loses sight of the memorable melodic structures that propped up his most rickety arrangements. The no-fi closer “If I Were More Like Jesus” could be seen as a callback to the divisive intros of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and Some Loud Thunder. But while those albums included the experiments right at the beginning when the listener’s patience and goodwill were at their peak; “If I Were Jesus” arrives after No Fragility’s longest stretch of tedium.

Ounsworth actually does bring the whole project full circle on “CYHSY, 2005,” a song diehards have probably been waiting for since the debut. Not because it’s a real reversion to that album in any meaningful way. But after years of trying to put his band’s unfathomable rise to blog-rock royalty behind him, Ounsworth boldly takes us there, doing away with the legend and printing the mundane—there’s no mention of David Bowie or David Byrne or the National, just emotional breakdowns in a Maine phone booth, dreary drives from Little Rock to Memphis to Texas. “All I wanted to do was stay home/But who am I to question fate/There I go again setting up the next stage,” Ounsworth sings, capturing the mixed emotions of a guy given the Golden Ticket, living the dream, and quickly realizing it was someone else’s.
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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - New Fragility Music Album Reviews Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - New Fragility Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Tuesday, February 23, 2021 Rating: 5

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