If the stylization of the band’s name is any indication, tUnE-YarDs (@tuneyards) is not for everybody. And while Whokill the second album from Merrill Garbus, embraces traditional structures and pop tonalities far more readily than her previous effort, it is still an eccentric work bursting with the artist’s unique personality. tUnE-YarDs is a true original, and has created yet another truly individual work.
With tribal drums looping back and forth, guitar noodleing and spurts of Garbus’ overwhelmingly powerful voice, Whokill offers a completely singular listening—there is truly nothing else like this out right now. Even with all of these sonic flourishes, the stand out element is Garbus’ extraordinary voice. She moves effortlessly from the powerful howl of “Biznass” to the introspective mutterings of the opening track “My Country” and the pretty femininity of “Doorstep.” She uses her spectacularly powerful voice to create a mood, not just deliver lyrics, a talent that often gets left by the wayside.
Unlike many wholly original works of art, tUnE-YarDs is still absolutely listenable. There is the slightest bit of a studio sheen on this album, a sheen that allows for you to dance instead of just be wowed by an onslaught of creativity. The same can be said of the lo-fi sensibilities of her first album Bird-Brains. There is a fuzzy, dirty edge to all the songs, but the production quality allows for Garbus to show off her unique sound.
tUnE-YarDs is one of the rare examples of an original sound. It is a niche market to be sure, but those who can get past the density of the sound are in for an enriching album that will always yield a new experience with each listen.
From The Wild Honey Pie, 4/26/2011: http://www.thewildhoneypie.com/tune-yards-whokill-7-9/