Clap Your Hands Say Yeah: Music Box, Manchester: Thursday, November 17
NYC internet sensations hit the north and prove themselves to be more than deserving of all the attention
There are many bands who would gladly toast the devil with a coven of cackling A&R men for instant success. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah are not one of them. Only 18 months into their lifespan, theirs has been a rise so DIY it makes Arctic Monkeys look like losers on The X Factor. With no marketing, no record deal and no money, they shifted 25,000 copies of their debut LP from their New York flat before even being signed. And now they find themselves touring the UK with their reputation secure as the most exciting new band on the planet. “You look like David Bowie/But you’ve nothing new to show me”, sings unimpressed singer Alec Ounsworth like a ‘Pablo Honey’-era Thom Yorke with a baby sewn inside his larynx, and it becomes clear that tonight Glamorous Indie Rock’n’Roll is going to take a beating from its smarter cousin, Damn Good Indie Rock’n’Roll. It takes opener ‘Let the Cool Goddess Rust Away’ just four minutes to wipe the indie slate clean of a thousand angular haircuts and one particularly fetching pink jacket.
Ounsworth’s nasal shriek may crack glass, but it’s strangely beautiful when walled-in between the complex blend of the Talking Heads basslines and keyboard bleeps borrowed from a thousand lesser Britpop bands. Like Arcade Fire and Devendra Banhart, CYHSY celebrate a return to the experimental, going beyond the skid-marked seat of Iggy Pop’s Levi’s and directly into the soul. ‘Over And Over Again (Lost & Found)’ sees CYHSY battling The Cure over who can write the most gloriously downbeat indie pop song, while ‘Details Of War’ is more celestial than a Pentecostal choir doing somersaults in space, raising hippy drippy smiles from a wide-eyed audience. That’s before ‘The Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth’’s thumping fuzz-pop tale of the big city blues knocks them to the ground with the force of a yellow cab going 50 through the lights. But it’s the epic skip of ‘Upon This Tidal Wave Of Young Blood’ that sends everyone in the room into a state of goose-pimpled wonder. Everyone, that is, except the band, who plod along with the set, alarmingly unaware of quite how good they are.