Review : Alec Ounsworth - Mo Beauty
PastemagazineOn his first solo effort, the Clap Your Hands Say Yeah frontman continues his enthusiastic experiments with strange sound combinations. He’s pensive these days—mellow and introverted—and his self-questioning lyrics are matched with a fittingly eerie sound. The album is well conceived with articulate themes running throughout, as when Ounsworth laments the fall of New Orleans in “Holy, Holy, Holy Moses” and then later channels the city’s brass-laden funeral marches into the dirt-smudged “Idiots in the Rain.” Ounsworth’s resounding use of strings, horns, piano and percussion appears and disappears at unexpected moments with beautifully unsettling results. But his chaotic sonic messes are somehow always under control (note how the clanging cymbals align with the taut vocals on “Bones in the Grave”). Mo Beauty is an album full of idiosyncrasies, but Ounsworth’s consummate eye to its construction turns dissonance into harmony....full text
NmeThe ripples from Clap Your Hands Say Yeah’s stonking 2005 self-titled debut album have long since lapped against the indie pool’s edge, and it’s fair to say the Brooklyn troupe are displaying the advanced stages of ‘Spinto Band Syndrome’. You know: skinny college-goon types launch student union-slaying semi-breakthrough album over the Atlantic then follow-up with a less spectacular effort. The previously confident strides stick in the gloop of mediocrity, sinking until eventually, when the nostrils finally plop under, there are barely enough people interested to hear their final exhalation of relevance.
But proverbially grasping a vine, attaching it to the back of a horse then giving Dobbin’s buttock an almighty thwack is CYHSY frontman Alec Ounsworth with this debut solo album. It’s a challenging, warm if understated effort destined to thunk into the indie solo album dartboard somewhere between Julian Casablancas and Duncan from Maximo Park....full text
PrefixmagMo Beauty is Alec Ounsworth’s second solo album this year (and first for a label). They're his first works since he began a (seemingly) purposeful mission to overspend the goodwill he had accrued after his band, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, became one of the first bands to break big via the Internet in the modern era (a.k.a. 2005). First was the (I suspect) terrible-on-purpose sophomore album, Some Loud Thunder, then a few years of radio silence amidst talks of possible band break-ups. Then earlier this year, Ounsworth announced plans to release two solo albums. Flashy Python’s Skin and Bones, an album that is essentially Clap Your Hands Say Yeah minus the other dudes in the band and with a few guys in Man Man and Dr. Dog, and Mo Beauty.
Mo Beauty, since Ounsworth announced it, has been the more promising venture, because it pairs his froggy, unfortunate voice with a coterie of New Orleans session men known for contributions to New Orleans jazz and R&B albums. The album largely lives up to its billing as a more song-based project, with Ousnworth’s metaphorical lyrics placed center stage, but it’s the session men who shine here. They give the songs an authenticity that is hard to replicate and hard to ignore....full text
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