Review Summary: "Your power inside, it rocks me like a lullaby. Baby I don't know why."
First sight of the name tUnE-yArDs evokes images of brace-laden teeth behind the grin of a 13 year old as she chats over AIM. This instant impression of immaturity can be very dissuading, yet tUnE-yArDs' music is fused with inescapable personality. A quirky mix of pop, funk, and vocal looping gives the listener a brief glimpse into the world of tUnE-yArDs and the unique mindset that “W H O K I L L”
is comprised of.
What drives the initial infectious charm of ”W H O K I L L”
is Merrill Garbus' singing/scatting paired with vocal loops and her undeniably bizarre lyrics. This is all nicely complimented by the tasteful funk rhythms and heavy tribal drum beats found throughout. Most of the tracks swell with this energy and passion; the single, “Bizness”
, being the most obvious and clear example of this unrestrained method. The drum-stick clacks and poignant bass lines of ”Bizness”
are nothing short of dance-inducing. Shifting stylistically on the track ”Killa”
, the instrumentals resemble that of Vampire Weekend while the nursery rhyme vocal delivery keeps it refreshing and different. The album also reaches anthemic proportions with ”Powa”
, showing just how well the band can craft a catchy pop-ballad while still firmly maintaining their roots.
Yet, as much as ”W H O K I L L”
screams artistic genius, ultimately its heart is just out of reach. Merill Garbus demands your respect through her bold creativity; and you'd be damned to not give it to her. The issue is that ability and potential alone don't justify an album's merit. Unfortunately ”W H O K I L L”
lacks the cohesiveness that separates great albums from superb ones. Even though we have an epic demonstration of vocal experimentation paired with lively musicianship, certain parts of the album are just too alien to connect with. ”My Country”, “Riotriot”, and “Wolly Wolly Gong”
are prime examples of the impenetrable bouts of madness that plague the record. The sonic world constructed before us is enticing but we are only permitted to peer in. The daft insanity that makes this album so refreshing is the same factor that holds it back; "W H O K I L L"
is regrettably inaccessible at times.
Despite all of this, tUnE-yArDs still manage to preserve a consistent flow on the album; their abstract personality acting as the alluring cohesive. The majority of the tracks are such potent pop concoctions they are simply too contagious to resist. Fortunately the low points are easily overshadowed by the massive peaks this album reaches. "W H O K I L L"
is certainly a dynamic advance in the pop genre and undoubtedly deserves your attention.