Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! are set to release their fifth album ‘The Tourist’ on 24th February 2017.
Like previous Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! records, The Tourist nods to Ounsworth’s musical heroes—a group that includes artists such as John Cale, Robert Wyatt, Tom Waits and Nick Cave. However, this album also shows a natural progression from previous records.
“Better Off” and “The Vanity Of Trying” are lush, keyboard-augmented songs, while “A Chance To Cure” and “Ambulance Chaser” are rhythmically askew, and the sighing “Loose Ends” is delicate, acoustic-based folk-rock.
No matter what the style, however, The Tourist‘s arrangements are laser-sharp and deliberate, without feeling labored-over. For example, “Down (Is Where I Want To Be)” combines piano flickers with anxious keyboards, gnarled electric guitars and teeth-baring drums—but yet feels cohesive, not chaotic.
The Tourist emerged from a period where Ounsworth was doing a lot of intense soul-searching, and processing personal events that irrevocably shaped his life and future. But although most of these songs came together during this time of reflection, he considers the record to be cathartic—an exhale of sorts, rather than a collection of songs where he was indulging in self-pity or letting things stagnate or fester.
“The album was a type of purge,” he says. “A purge of certain emotional confusion that manifested itself in the last several years. It was not an easy album to make, by virtue of the fact that it was an emotional time for me.”
Appropriately, The Tourist‘s lyrics reflect how complex upheaval can be (“We can beat around this bush together/Sometimes it’s all I think of/Other times I can forget”) and explore the imperfect nature of blame (“The car left the road and was found without its mirrors/You play the victim/And I’ll play the blind man”). Other songs try to make sense of the present time (“Now that the past is on fire/How can I look around and find I can’t remember who I was”) or employ clever wordplay— “Black cat let’s not split hairs/I’m tethered to the weather/I assure I don’t care about no lucky streak”—for effect.
“I wanted to experiment with packing lyrics,” Ounsworth says. “On this album, the lyrics and vocal melody effectively carry the songs, maybe more than anything else. Elvis Costello does this really well on his song ‘Beyond Belief,’ as does Paul Simon on his solo albums. I wanted not to overdo it lyrically, but do try to squeeze as much as I could out of certain phrases.”
Ounsworth spent about a week recording The Tourist at Dr. Dog’s Philadelphia-based studio with a drummer and bassist. After that, he and engineer Nick Krill spent a few months “tidying things up” and recording additional embellishments: backup vocals, keyboards, guitars and more percussion. That gives The Tourist more of a band feel than the last album, and contributes to why the record possesses a musical lightness. The dreamy opening track “The Pilot” especially has a lilting edge, courtesy of Smiths-reminiscent acoustic guitars strums and Ounsworth’s hiccupping, conspiratorial vocals.
The Tourist was then mixed by Dave Fridmann, who also worked on two previous Clap Your Hands Say Yeah albums, 2007’s Some Loud Thunder and 2014’s Only Run. Ounsworth says he and Fridmann are on the same musical wavelength, which makes their long-time working relationship an anchor of sorts. “Dave and I don’t necessarily stick with what’s easiest which is fine and anxiety-inducing, in a good way,” he says. “He challenges me to do something a little bit different.”
The band will also be heading out on a huge tour so check out the dates below and head to their website for tickets.
March 2 : Philadelphia PA – Johnny Brenda’s
March 3 : Philadelphia PA – Johnny Brenda’s
March 4 : New York NY – Le Poisson Rouge
March 5 : Somerville MA – Once Lounge & Ballroom
March 7 : Toronto ONT – Horseshoe Tavern
March 8 : Columbus OH – Rumba Cafe
March 9 : Grand Rapids MI – Pyramid Scheme
March 10 : Chicago IL – Lincoln Hall
March 11 : Minneapolis MN – 7th Street Entry
March 13 : Omaha NE – The Waiting Room
March 14 : Denver CO – Larimer Lounge
March 15 : Salt Lake City – Urban Lounge
March 16 : Boise ID – Neurolux
March 17 : Seattle WA – The Crocodile
March 18 : Vancouver BC – The Imperial
March 19 : Portland OR – Mississippi Studios
March 21 : San Francisco CA – The Independent
March 22 : Sacramento CA – Harlow’s
March 23 : Visalia CA – Cellar Door
March 24 : West Hollywood CA – Roxy Theatre
March 25 : San Diego CA – Casbah
April 18 : Phoenix AR – Valley Bar
April 20 : Dallas TX – Club Dada
April 21 : Austin TX – The Sidewinder
April 22 : Houston TX – White Oak Music
April 25 : Ybor City FL – The Orpheum
April 26 : Miami FL – Gramps
April 27 : Orlando FL – The Social
April 28 : Atlanta GA – Aisle 5
April 29 : Birmingham AL – Saturn
April 30 : Nashville TN – Exit / In
May 2 : Asheville NC – The Grey Eagle
May 3 : Carrboro NC – Cat’s Cradle
May 5 : Pittsburgh PA – Club Café
May 6 : Washington DC – Rock & Roll Hotel
UK / EUROPE
September 12 : Brussels BE – Botanique
September 13 : Bristol UK – Thekla
September 14 : Manchester UK – Gorilla
September 15 : Dublin IE – Whelans
September 16 : Glasgow UK – CCA
September 18 : Leeds UK – Brudenell Social Club
September 19 : London UK – Village Underground
September 20 : Paris FR – La Maroquinerie
September 23 : Copenhagen DK – Vega
September 25 : Berlin DE – Berghan Kantine
September 27 : Salzburg AT – Rockhouse
September 28 : Vienna AT – Waves Festival @ WUK
September 29 : Zurich CH – Bogen F
September 30 : Fribourg CH – FRI-Son