In the middle of 2005, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah were being touted as the hottest unsigned act in America. The band's self-titled debut -- a collection of off-center indie rock songs and quirky pop tunes -- was self-produced, self-released, self-promoted, and self-distributed, with a great deal of help from a wide network of bloggers and Internet supporters. There was so much online interest in the band that NPR even did a feature on the emerging phenomena of Internet band buzz, using CYHSY as the prime example. Although the band eventually signed with a label, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah continued blazing their own arty trail, releasing albums that were unconventional but still accessible.
Bandmembers Alec Ounsworth, Lee Sargent, Robbie Guertin, Tyler Sargent, and Sean Greenhalgh coalesced into a group after co-founders Ounsworth and Tyler Sargent laid the initial groundwork in Massachusetts. After the band moved to Brooklyn (with Ounsworth remaining in nearby Philadelphia), songwriting sessions began in earnest. A four-song demo introduced the band's sound, and a debut full-length appeared in 2005, with the subsequent Internet hoopla following hot on its heels. Rolling Stone championed the cause further by heralding the group as a "Hot New Band" later that year. By the end of 2005, CYHSY had signed with the U.K.-based label Wichita Recordings, which released the group's debut overseas in January 2006.
Ounsworth dabbled with his side project, Flashy Python and the Body Snatchers, while Greenhalgh's Guns N' Roses tribute band Mr. Brownstone packed it up in June 2006. The rest of that year found the group leaking out a few EPs before a second full-length record, Some Loud Thunder, hit shelves in 2007. The band continued to play shows and pursue other interests amid rumors that they had gone on hiatus, with Greenhalgh producing records for bands like Takka Takka while the Sargent brothers did some soundtrack work. In 2011, the band quashed rumors they were splitting up by self-releasing their third album, Hysterical, and the band continued to tour.
Two members decided to leave CYHSY in 2012. Robbie Guertin went on to pursue other projects, while Tyler Sargent left to form a "presidential exploratory committee." CYHSY released a digital-only EP, Little Moments, in 2013, which was the first sign of their change in direction with the presence of synths and drum machines. The tracks "Only Run" and "Little Moments" from the EP were to again feature on their next album, 2014's Only Run, which also featured guest artist Matt Berninger of the National.
J. Scott McClintock