On the watching-Bush-speak-level-of-awkward Late Night With Jimmy Fallon last night, ex-Blogods™ Clap Your Hands Say Yeah debuted a new song, “Statues,” which was immediately available for download in “demo” form right after the performance. The band says, “It’s a song that we might work on some more in the future.” Why debut something unfinished on national TV, even if it is the Jimmy Fallon version of national TV? Although it might be best if this bad boy never makes it out of the workshop because it’s a meandering mess that’s overstuffed with ideas, few of them good. (Much like their second album!)
When “Statues” finally settles down near the end to do something pleasant, the band undersells it. This is an issue on the demo version, which might be one of the least memorable songs I’ve heard lately, but good gosh, is it a problem live. I know it’s au courant to blame the sound guys on TV shows, but this one’s on the band, if you ask me. I’ve got no problem with out-of-tuneness per se, if you sell it. Heckfire, Bill Wyman’s bass is sharp all over Between the Buttons, but that record still rules because the Stones plowed through it. (See also: the Byrds, the Beatles, R.E.M, anybody who ever played a Rickenbacker anything.) But what I heard was not the good kind of out of tune; simply put, a song this ephemeral can’t support it. The organ is shrill, the guitars are extra-special jangly, and the harmonica stinks. Get those guitars intonated!
This is all foundational for a truly execrable vocal performance that might be the long-awaited nadir/death knell of the Cold War Kids School Of Blog-Rock Singing (alumni: CYHSY, Cloud Room, Wolf Parade). It’s dismissive of pitch, inconsistent in tone, and lethargic in performance. I have so many questions. (A few: Did Alec Ounsworth even bother to learn or write lyrics to this song? Did he just make up a melody as the band went along? CYHSY has only been a band for five years; aren’t singers supposed to get better before they get worse? The guy’s what, 31? Too many Parliament Lights?) I like non-traditional singing just fine and have done my fair share of it over the years in karaoke booths, four-track sessions, and even recording studios, but to tie this slurry vocal slush to a moribund half-song like “Statues” is a real travesty.
Rule of thumb: If it’s possible for a bystander to think that Blind Melon’s second album was better at accomplishing what your song sets out to do, then perhaps it’s time for self-reflection.
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah: “Statues” [You Ain't No Picasso]