Some Loud Thunder stands inevitably up against the hype surrounding Clap Your Hands Say Yeah’s self-titled debut, a following based on that helpful friend word-of-mouth, and the wonder that is the Internet. As such, their sophomore album falls upon the eager ears of many ready to be grabbed by the throat and flung into the dreamy, strange world that leader Alec Ounsworth oversees. His voice, that unmistakable wail, leapt out of the first album and dove into my ear, rattling those little bones in there with the funny names. The rest of the band chimed in with some catchy, excellent tunes and I was a fan. With this new album I was ready to again fall victim to that whiney leader, but spent most of the listen waiting for that to happen. Some Loud Thunder has some quality songs by a band we like, but I couldn’t help but feel disappointed as I waited and waited for that shrill siren song to lure me into the world I was used to. Whereas with the first disk of songs each seemed to begin something immediately engaging, this new set seem more like endings. They don’t build up to the same level of dancy excitement, and most drift into repetitive, sleepy noise with their endings. Maybe these new tracks should be seen as counterparts to the others, the first set the energetic cries of “Here we are, we’re a new band that’s awesome,” versus “Hey, we’re a band, and we have some more songs here.”
So while I spent the whole listen yearning to help Ounsworth break out of the plastic bag it felt like he was stuck in, this lack of my usual focus led to a better consideration of what everyone else was doing. Thusly, the album got a little friendlier to me after a few tries, the first one being admittedly tainted with the aforementioned vocal disappointment. I do like the song Emily Jean Stock, which is conveniently their first single. Although not free from the muted and haze-covered feel that the album contains, it still manages to rock the house somewhat. It starts out with a sort of 60’s, hippie happy song feel, which is soon interspersed with a little noise experimentation and our familiar backup moans. What I like about this song though is really only a reminder of the yearning I have for them to burst out of their shells, because at the line “Come along now now now now now now/ Don’t think on an offer that you can’t refuse/ Yesterday’s not quite the same let’s make it plain/ There are things that I can do,” Ounsworth suddenly lets out that sick-cat screech and after waiting for it like I have it really makes my enjoyment boil.
Overall I’ll admit that my reception of this album was tainted by antcipation, but then again how could it not be? Perhaps the real question is: How might I have reacted if instead this album sounded exactly the same as their first? Lyrically, Some Loud Thunder seems to contemplate these same issues of quick popularity, the resulting expectation, and the enormously daunting task that surely is following that up. At some points, Ounsworth can be found contemplating his own voice as something that people actually care about, and are listening to for some reason. On the title track he admits to the awkwardness that is the result of sudden adoration with “All this talking/ you’d think I’d have something to say.” Also he addresses the odd responsibility that is knowing others are listening attentively in “Yes that was me digging holes for all the world to see.” Of course I could be wrong entirely, because the lines on these tracks are certainly not free of the ever-cryptic artist’s license, and these boys do weave some interesting lines. What I do know is that while overall he may be confused about himself, and the band their newfound esteem and its place in this mystifying music scene, I can help you out my friends. What we want to hear is some loud thunder. Heh.