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Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - New Fragility LP

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - New Fragility LP

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

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While Clap Your Hands Say Yeah has essentially always been a solo vehicle for lead singer/songwriter Alec Ounsworth, the group's introspective sixth album, 2021's New Fragility takes this idea to its fullest degree. Recorded and produced by Ounsworth in Austin, Texas with some additional production by Will JohnsonNew Fragility is a poetic, deeply personal album that finds Ounsworth searching for an ever-deeper sense of meaning in what often feels like an increasingly tumultuous and fragile world. The album follows 2017's The Tourist, which itself was Ounsworth's first album as the sole remaining member of the band. While still steeped in his love of '70s and '80s post-punk textures, New Fragility plays as a proper solo album, spotlighting Ounsworth's literate songwriting style and distinctively nasal vocals. It's a sound with a raw-nerve quality that reinforces the soul-searching nature of the material. The opening "Hesitating Nation" and the title track are kinetic anthems, rife with a passionate forward motion that brings to mind an unexpected mix of the Pixies and Bruce Springsteen. They also display Ounsworth's dichotomous knack for applying often-melancholy lyrics to catchy melodies. On the title track he evokes the pain of a break-up, singing "I never want to take another chance on anyone." Similarly, on the Bowie-esque ballad "Mirror Song," he turns the life of a touring musician into a metaphor for fending off loneliness, singing "We will do what we need to keep this fantasy alive." Adding to the song's sharp poignancy is Ounsworth's deft use of a toy piano. Other inventive instrumental flourishes follow, including a string quartet on "Innocent Weight," and an otherworldly analog synth on "Dee, Forgiven." During Clap Your Hands Say Yeah's early years in the mid-2000s, Ounsworth often dismissed critical comparisons of their work to bands like Radiohead and Neutral Milk Hotel, even when they were meant as compliments. While one can certainly hear touchstones echoed throughout New Fragility, it has the singularity and focus of one artistic voice. -All Music Guide

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