Review Summary: Ex-NIN drummer Chris Vrenna takes to production and gets it dead-on right with this excellent collection of synthpop.
Does anybody else recall that rumoured Mp3 flying around the internet just before the release of Tool's lateset album that everyone claimed was a song by them? That voluminous, chugging and tribal piece of metal is possibly the most well known song by Tweaker, The theme to DooM 3.
The rest of tweaker's work, however, bears as much resemblance to Tool as it does to Sunn O))); that is: absolutely none whatsoever in any discernable sense. Chris Vrenna (former NIN drummer, if you're wondering where you've heard that name before) Is the one-man-band in Tweaker. With a little help from a rather impressive arsenal of guests (Robert Smith is just the tip of the iceberg here).
Running a relatively wide but ultimately thematically similar emotional gamut, from dour to wistful to enchanted, 2a.m. is a neat collection of incredibly high-quality synthpop. From the crashing starter 'Ruby' (The albums only real heavy moment) through to the flourished string outro of 'Sleepwalking Away' (With vocals by the luscious Jennifer Charles), Almost everything in the house of Tweaker is above great.
Much of the album is synthpop in the classic sense: a little bit darker than straight pop, but still essentially an accesible 3-minute song. But here we see it done much better than it has been done for many years now (probably since Vrenna's former boss Trent Reznor), with the production tight and the arrangements simple but elegant.
The guest list, also, is worth a thorough note. Will Oldham supplies vocals on the opener, Mellowdrone give a fantastic performance on album highlight 'Worse Than Yesterday', Robert Smith, David Sylvian and The Walkmen's Hamilton Leithauser all sing on tracks mid-album, Johnny Marr drops jangly guitar chords in on the title track, and Jennifer Charles previously mentioned performance caps the whole thing off. Now if there's not at least one thing in that list that pique's your interest, well i'd be surprised.
The album does have its downfalls though: Robert Smith gives a frustratingly sub-par performance as a co-songwriter and vocalist on 'Truth Is', and a pair of meagre semi-industrial instrumentals punctuate a lineup of otherwise excellent songs.
But these gripes aside, the album achieves a songs-for-the-deaf level of consistency, meaning you'll very rarely skip anything (the whole thing flows almost perfectly). Infectious hooks, plenty of fascinating production and enough atmosphere to drown a rat. A largely and tragically ignored album with all the makings of a modern alternative pop staple.