Review Summary: We like to play it all. Welcome to Tally Hall!
From all the discussions about the Beatles I’ve witnessed – whether or not they’re legitimate legends or just obnoxious pop stars being a popular one – I’ve derived one thing for sure: most people instinctively embrace any form of medium with an optimistic tone. Of course you’ve got the “life sucks” portion of the population, but half of them are either just attention-starved or depressed over a single event in their life, and thus could be swayed in the positive direction with another single event. So, for most, even just one listen of the upbeat and carefree tunes of Ann Arbor, MI based Tally Hall will offer a remedy for escaping the monotony that is life. The five young men that make up the band, who refer to themselves as five different colors plus “tie”, have a similar goal in mind as the Beatles: making feel-good music that the majority of the masses will love, all the while never taking themselves seriously (that’s not to say the Beatles never wrote a serious song, but for the sake of this comparison I’ll subtract emphasis away from that part.)
If I had to throw a label on Tally Hall, it’d (reluctantly) be indie rock. But as you listen to Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum
, their only full-length, your inclination will be to admit you’re just listening to feel-good rock. They venture well into pop and folk, as well as country and even hip-hop, but no matter what avenue Tally Hall is taking, the final product always has the same feel and mood. When this mood is an optimistic and carefree one, you’ll assume that at some point it wanders into the realm of straight-up obnoxiousness. Between the constant group vocal melodies, bouncy piano lines, Queen-esque musings, and scattered sound effects, I would agree, but it only reaches the obnoxious levels on Marvin
a few times. An easy example is “Banana Man”; its outright silly vocal effects and rapid lyric delivery fronting a busy percussion section reminiscent of Pet Sounds
-era Beach Boys is enough to turn off some. Conversely, the same vocal effects coupled with group harmonies that lead the storybook number “Spring and a Storm” work together for the better, although I’m not sure I can explain why.
All of this is wrapped in a present with shiny paper made especially for fans of the silly, bright, and positive prospects of life. Even the Weezer inspired alt rock romp “Two Wuv” follows this agenda. The song is also a prime example of the band’s self-awareness and how they make a careful point to avoid getting too serious; it’s a love song dedicated to Mary-Kate and Ashley. Perhaps the most impressive thing about this album is that despite the staggering array of sounds, it manages to take hold of a serious sense of continuity. Amidst the xylophones, maracas, hand claps, and bulk shipments of whimsical lyrics, Tally Hall never abandon their core mission statement, which is to ravish in a huge field in the spring time without a care in the world.
gives us a generous helping of what Tally Hall is all about, and it works nine times out of ten, even when it’s near impossible to explain why. This record seems like what Panic at the Disco’s Pretty. Odd.
tried to be, and what Pet Sounds
(sans the infamous and widely-considered genius collaborative songwriting and vocal harmonies) would be if it came out in the last decade. Tally Hall is one of the closest things to being this decade’s Beatles there is, but what’s more worth pointing out is that they pull it off – whatever it may be – pretty well. Along with this notion comes the inevitable tendency to get obnoxious or annoying, but it’s forgivable in the big picture because this record generally rules, and will almost undoubtedly put you in a better mood. A worthy fit in most any music fan’s roster, Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum
is sure to bring smiles and singalongs any time its distinct album art shows up on your iPod. Be warned, though: it can be frustratingly catchy. Listen at your own risk.