We love Merril here at HPM and after the stunning debut of Bird-Brains, tUnE-yArDs returns with W H O K I L L which moves the home-made sound along into great clarity while keeping the whole low production settings and bursting enthusiasm throughout.
Opener “My Country” is typically outspoken and political and has plenty of percussive and melodic trickery going on in the background but still in a home-made setting. Add in fanfare brass and loud boisterous vocals and you have an instant classic. What’s more noticeable is that the songs are much more layered this time round using lots of vocal layers swirling around that she uses live. “Es-So” has a particularly kooky edge to it with its raising off camber chord structure. It’s slightly panicked but fun all at the same time which is a great combination especially with the keyboard twists at the end.
“Gangsta” reminds me of a real hark back to the debut album with Merril’s vocals being chewed into a police siren. Everything has elevated production wise however and is much more complex and fuller in sound. This track has such a forceful power to it which is really the order of the day. Garbus has really stood on her own two feet with this album making lots of political and feminine statements. Her second album is much more confrontational and confident throughout. “Powa” is almost produced properly! The vocals are crystal clear and not overdriving, the guitar actually doesn’t blister the speakers and everything chugs along nicely. It’s great to note that without the production twists and deafening ukelele the music holds up completely on its own merit. “Riotriot” utilises the uke beautifully using its whole aural spectrum from beautiful harp like twinkle to guitar rock outs. The track builds and builds from a patter into a blast and gets you going with it.
“Bizness” is my favourite track on the album. Using lots of looping vocal samples and a ton of percussive stick and clicks, Garbus absolutely rocks out to one of the most catchy chorus’ I’ve heard all year. It’s the sheer celebration of the music that is apparent throughout the album that by this point has really pushed all your buttons and got you moshing and dancing around to the infectious beats. Stunning. “Doorstep” is a t-y hark back to the 70’s diva genre I’m sure with sumptuous vocal montages and lots of shoop-shooping. Of course there’s the usual percussive loops and serious bass lines throughout but this is the most serene I’ve heard her yet!
“You Yes You” is a funky rock track but it’s eclipsed by the beautiful second clip at the end of what I assume is her son singing. So cute! “WoolyWollyGong” is contender for best song name of the year and its the only quiet song on the album. A slow tick tocking track that is minimal in sound and production it holds a mysterious timeless quality as if everything has been put on pause. There’s nothing else quiet on the album so it stands out for that reason and for Merril’s high vocal register sounding beautiful. The album closing with the fantastic “Killa” with lyrics flying in from all angles and some rocking uke riffs. It’s almost like an alternative uke rock disco track.
It’s a fantastic follow-up album. Moving her sound along to be more complex, fluid and seemless and yet retaining the unique overall production sound and sheer energy of her music, tUnE-yArDs continues to grow into an absolutely powerhouse. A fantastic album for all who dare look outside the box.