For their third album A Worm's Life, Crash Test Dummies were given a lot of creative freedom, thanks to the success of God Shuffled His Feet. However, the album was considered a disappointment and, the band's label, BMG pressured the band into immediately writing a follow-up. During the initial song-writing process, the band wrote and recorded 35 demos, all of which were rejected by BMG. The demos from these sessions would be shelved until 2011, when a selection of them were released on the compilation album Demo-litions.
In 1998, the band would then proceed to write and record the album that became Give Yourself a Hand. At the time, Brad Roberts had moved to Harlem and was greatly inspired by the urban music he heard in the area. As a result, he began the writing an album that was full of soul and hip-hop beats, including Roberts singing in falsetto for the first time. The sound of the album can also be attributed to the contributions from co-writer/producer Greg Wells.
The album received mixed reviews. Allmusic writer Paul Pearson gave the album 3 out of 5 stars and states that Give Yourself a Hand redefines the Dummies sound with lightly applied techno strokes, not far off from Everything but the Girl's classic Walking Wounded. Some textures here are stunning, with electric piano flourishes and hip-hop drumbeat samples that sound tunefully great. The Dummies exhibit an unexpected knack for drum'n'bass shadings in "Pissed with Me" and "A Little Something." Unfortunately, the beauty of the surroundings can't compensate for Roberts' singularly strange lyrical talents." However, he goes on to state that "the songs sung by Ellen Reid fare much better, especially the beautiful "A Little Something," which at least gives voice to vulnerability."