The last we heard of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah was the somewhat obtuse and impenetrable single “Statues,” which they performed on Jimmy Fallon back in 2009 and released soon after. When the band announced a hiatus soon after its release it didn’t seem completely surprising as the song seemed to show a band in distress, unsure of what to do with themselves.
Two years and two solo albums from Alec Ounsworth later the band announced their forthcoming third album Hysterical, but the few snippets of songs that appeared on a video promoting the album were once again hard to pin down and get totally excited about. Many fans seemed to lose interest after the shaky start to their last album Some Loud Thunder but even those who stuck around and let out the obligatory “YEAH” when their return was announced found it hard to know exactly what to be excited about. I shivered and saddened at the thought of an album full of songs like “Statues.”
All this makes the first single from Hysterical all the more relieving. “Same Mistake” begins a little hazily, like the first beam of sunshine through your blinds in the morning but once the band kicks into action it feels like someone has pulled the blinds up and opened the window, interrogatingly shining the sun in your face. In a nutshell it’s a rather summery number and seems to pleasingly meld the best parts of the bands last two albums. The drums light the spark that starts the fire, driving the song along in a similar fashion to “The Skin Of My Yellow Country Teeth” as strings soar and keep the song afloat. Nimble and unobtrusive guitar work finds its way into the mix as Ounsworth puts in a chirpy, but it’s more his vocal melodies that seem important here as opposed to his tangling warbled lyrics. The only real shame is that once it gets into your head it seems much too short, and listening over and over again never feels totally satisfying. But that’s what building excitement is all about; let’s just hope that in context with the rest of Hysterical it feels more rewarding.