Review Summary: Tap those toes.
Tilly and the Wall have repeatedly proved themselves fully capable of constructing benign indie-pop that neither blatantly offends or enormously impresses. With strangely non-gimmicky percussion provided by tap dancer
Jamie Pressnall, Tilly and the Wall have already secured two solid (albeit nauseatingly sweet) records with Conor Oberst's Team Love Records, making an amiable dent in their underexposed music scene. With a wide array of different sounds and melodies - ranging from tastefully nostalgic to soothingly peaceable - the quirky quintet have yet again released another winner with 'O'
-- an album that you will either find peculiarly enticing or obnoxiously cutesy.
is a widely mixed bag, which ends up working in the album's benefit, providing a myriad of different sounds and compositions that prevent the record from over-welcoming it's stay (which is hard to do when the majority of your songs are less than three minutes long). From the lo-fi reeling and stomping of lead single 'Pot Kettle Black' to the classic indie harmonies of album opener "Tall Tall Glass", Tilly and the Wall prove themselves capable of not writing themselves into a typecast, keeping sounds varied and influences scattered (in the best way possible). The nostalgic drone of both 'Pot Kettle Black' and the album's obvious highlight 'Blood Flowers' are layered and intriguing while remaining unarguably catchy and infectious, juxtaposing the likes of 60s pop and modern songwriting in a particularly tasty way. In the opposite manner, the horns, chanting and impressive percussion (courtesy of the toe-tapping Jamie Pressnall) of 'I Found You', as well as the synthy psuedo-hand clapping of 'Poor Man's Ice Cream' operate musical experimentation brilliantly, with each song simply brimming with raucous hooks and delicious harmonies.
Unfortunately, that's not to say that O
doesn't falter; for when the album falters, it simply falls flat on it's face. Take the rowdy closer 'Too Excited' for example, which starts promisingly with a rollicking tap performance before exploding into a hyperactive expletive-laden adolescent theme song that ultimately lives up to it's title. Ultimately, 'Too Excited' tends to sound like a Girlfriend-era Avril Lavigne branching out into indie-pop, complete with undeservedly malevolent lyrics ("And I say boohoo and I say f--k you!") that do nothing but stain the otherwise harmless album. Earlier in the album, 'Falling Without Knowing' plays like a B-side by some generic pop artist of the late 80's with decidedly uninteresting melodies and enormously cheesy synths -- it's a shame, because if Tilly and the Wall had shaved off some of the completely unnecessary drivel that somehow snuck into O
, they would've crafted a faultlessly innocuous summer album.
Apart from the faux-angry tendencies that the group exercises on rare occasion, O
remains an addictive listen that is consistent enough to outshadow the blatant missteps that pop up during the relatively short running time of the record. Poppy, memorable and perhaps a bit familiar, Tilly and the Wall have crafted another in-the-box indie record that ultimately satisfies. With pleasant vocals, wholesome harmonies and bouncy musicianship (literally!), O
(for the most part) is exactly what it aspires to be: an inoffensive summer album that evokes laughs and high fives rather than long hours of pondering and somber deliberation -- and you know, that's not so bad.