Clap Your Hands Say Yeah & Cold War Kids * * *
at the Birmingham Academy
Review by Simon Harper
Californian outfit Cold War Kids must be tired of comparisons with the White Stripes by now.
Their debut album, Robbers and Cowards, bristles with blues-inspired energy, but it’s onstage that their songs really come to life.
In truth, they sound much closer to Love As Laughter and Orange-era Jon Spencer Blues Explosion than Jack and Meg, and a primal sense of vitality infuses their material.
Single Hang Me Up to Dry provokes huge applause, its coruscating guitars and yelped vocals coalescing to form a sumptuous racket.
Elsewhere, We Used to Vacation, with its prominent piano melody, hints at a softer side, although not all of the quartet’s songs are capable of matching these highlights.
Brooklynites Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, on the other hand, can’t seem to avoid comparisons with Talking Heads. There’s certainly the same urgency apparent, and also a jerkily rhythmic presence which they share with David Byrne’s former band, especially on Satan Said Dance, taken from new album Some Loud Thunder.
Other offerings from the record, including the rollicking title track, are dispatched with glee and rapturously received, although some newer tracks lack the pace and cohesion to maintain the momentum which they build up in bursts.
In This Home On Ice and Is This Love? are greeted like old friends by the audience. What’s surprising is that CYHSY appear much more complete this time around, and the myriad textures mean that there is a lot going on.
Whatever their shortcomings, here are two acts still trying to find their own personalities, but having plenty of fun while doing so.