Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, ULU, London

Stampeding rhino thunder
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I don't remember the naughtily downloaded MP3s sounding like that. A few David Byrne mannerisms, sure, but nothing this grating. Maybe, I decide, it's just an affectation he's adopted for the first song. But no, on the next song, he's at it again, yelping and screeching like a pig with its foot in a snare. I'm torn between a desire to commit murder and a desire to amputate my own ears without anaesthetic.

"It's really weird to be here," Ounsworth marvels. "There are so many of you." He's right: this gig was upgraded from the tiny 100 Club to ULU, and still sold out within a day. On a smaller scale, the rush to check out Clap Your Hands Say Yeah (or, as some mischievous wags are already calling them, Slap Your Heads Say Yeah, on account of their high foreheads) is an example of the same Soviet Russian, see-a-queue, join-a-queue herd mentality which has elevated Arctic Monkeys to the top of the charts, although CYHSY's mainstream crossover appeal is somewhat more, er, limited.

The attention-grabbing name probably helped. Following the 5678s, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Shout Out Louds, we probably need to enforce a moratorium to preserve the world's resources of band names based on rock'n'roll exclamations, and personally, I find CYHSY a clumsy mouthful. When asked where I was going tonight, the answer couldn't have been any more embarrassing if they were called Here's 2p Dance Like A Bear or Bite Your Shoulders Go Nnnggg! Confronted with the reality of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah in the flesh - a stage decorated with helium balloons and ribbons like a debutante's birthday, populated by five guys who look like college lecturers, making music which mainly sounds like Pavement at their most oblique - reactions are divided.

There are some for whom being here, and being seen to dig it, is an article of faith: "we are indie, therefore we like this sort of thing." But glancing around me, there are a lot of startled "What the hell is this?!" expressions, and a lot of people leaving early in search of Nurofen. It feels like I've unwittingly walked into a reality TV endurance show where the winner is the person who can stick it the longest.

Not that there aren't moments of prettiness, when the keyboards and guitars swirl in an early New Orderish way, and Sean Greenhalgh's drums approximate the stampeding-rhino thunder of Arcade Fire in full effect. These, however, are primarily during those rare interludes when Ounsworth shuts his cakehole for a few seconds.

"But they're so exuberant!" exclaims an enraptured American woman next to me, and they certainly do seem to be having fun up there (well, apart from grizzling boy behind the mic, who still sounds like his mum has slapped the backs of his thighs for not eating his greens). "They're shite," says a rather more blunt British chap, walking by. On the way home, a text message from a witty friend nails it: Clap Your Hands Over Your Ears, Say No.

One more thing.

Last week, in my Will Young album review, I highlighted the controversial use of XCP (a piece of "rootkit" software which secretly installs itself on your computer, leaving it open to attack from hackers, viruses and Trojan horses) on Sony/BMG albums. Sony UK have asked me to clarify that 1) XCP was only on the review copies sent to journalists (not the general public) and 2) it's a different kind of XCP to the one causing all the fuss in the USA, so you can listen to your Will Young album without any ill effects. At least, not to your computer.

s.price@independent.co.uk

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