Clap Your Hands Say Yeah’s chief protagonist, Alec Ounsworth, admits that The Tourist – his fifth album under the moniker – follows a period of emotional upheaval and “intense soul searching”. As a result, it marks a departure from CYHSY’s bouncing indie pop to something wholly darker, peppered with the panic, anxiety and sorrow that often results from such stretches of introspection.
But wherever there’s melancholy, it’s paired with soft, defiant optimism. The aching dream pop of opener The Pilot shifts into awkward, fizzing electronica in A Chance To Cure, while Unfolding Above Celibate Moon’s sparse, staccato synths soon give way to a potent, harmonica-driven climax. Ounsworth’s clearest reference here is Kid A-era Radiohead – not least in the sultry synths of The Vanity Of Trying – and once you’ve picked out Thom Yorke in his vocal turns, it can be difficult to un-hear. What sets Ounsworth apart, though, is his ability to free himself from musical convention. He careens from soaring indie epics to paranoid, glitchy synths to funk-laden pop and back again – often in the space of a song and a half. The Tourist manages a trick in remaining both scattershot and entirely cohesive.