tUnE-yArDs
sketchy.


3.0
good

Review

by Rating Above the Garbage USER (57 Reviews)
March 30th, 2021 | 31 replies


Release Date: 03/26/2021 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Smile for us!

Back in the day, the first thing many people make note of when talking about Merrill Garbus’s art pop solo-project-turned-duo was the stylization of the name. The alternating caps stylization was definitely eye-catching, and a simple way to get a bit of attention on the surface level. And while they’ve since dropped that particular style in recent years, I always thought it was a bit of a shame, because I had always thought that it fit the music well. Artsy, energetic pop that played with sounds and genres and was unafraid to get a little weird. It was silly, but it worked.

But what’s in a name, really?

sketchy., Tune-Yards’ newest outing, proves that while the project has changed over time, they’re still capable of making pop with a sharper bite. I’ll be the first to admit that I was surprised by that fact. 2018’s I Can Feel You Creep Into My Private Life saw the duo push down their more experimental urges for a more standard alt-dance sound. And while I’m sure that album has its fans, it did feel like a definite blunder to many, including myself. sketchy. isn’t exactly a textbook “return-to-form” for Tune-Yards, but more of a solid retooling. In a lot of ways, it feels like a redo of that 2018 album. I suppose when described like that, it’s a tougher sell. But I really do think they make it work here.

It’s strange to say it, but a lot of the appeal of this album for me comes from what Tune-Yards stripped out of their sound on this record. Sure, some elements from that 2018 album do still remain here. But only the good. It would be easy to say that previous album was totally irredeemable, but it did have some interesting things going on. And those little flourishes return on sketchy. Things like those muted, fuzzy basslines on “hypnotized”, or “hold yourself.’s” bleating saxophones. Garbus’s vocals are still a tad richer than they were a decade ago. All of these are good elements to keep. What they didn’t keep was the unnecessary synthpop or the failed attempts at commentary. While this album is much shallower water by comparison, it’s definitely a lot more palatable and ends up feeling a whole lot less embarrassing because of it. It’s, dare I say it, danceable. Even happy, at certain moments.

Not one to be knocked down for long, Tune-Yards does feel invigorated and ready to fight on sketchy. It’s a direction that makes sense to their audience, definitely. Though, there is the faintest worry in the very back of my mind, about whether this album is a proper course correction or a sudden change in plans caused by the backlash from their last record. There’s definitely an air of bitterness on tracks like “nowhere, man”, where Garbus repeatedly states that people “only want to hear her sing” over an (admittedly-funky) baseline.

Putting your heart into your work is difficult, especially after seeing it get dragged through the coals once before. The painted-on, toothy smile sketchy. dons is convincing enough to get you through its 37-minute runtime. But Tune-Yards may be the ones that need convincing sooner rather than later. “tUnE-yArDs” may never come back, and that’s okay.



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user ratings (23)
3.1
good


Comments:Add a Comment 
SandwichBubble
March 30th 2021


12681 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Stream: https://tune-yards.bandcamp.com/album/sketchy

First draft reviews.

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
March 30th 2021


24175 Comments


I liked "Creep into" but I have very low expectations for this one.

Good review as always Susan Boyle.

Digging: Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders & The LSO - Promises

SandwichBubble
March 30th 2021


12681 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

This is better than Crêpe, promise.

And thanks!

Trifolium
March 30th 2021


23442 Comments


Cool, will check, haven't heard their stuff in forever. Nice review too!

rellik009
March 30th 2021


1526 Comments


a SandwichBubble review????

instant pos

will czech, this sounds sweet

someone
March 30th 2021


2734 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

Bubbly

parksungjoon
March 30th 2021


28668 Comments


Rating Above the Garbage

Trifolium
March 30th 2021


23442 Comments


park I miss you!!!!

parksungjoon
March 30th 2021


28668 Comments


no need

rabidfish
March 30th 2021


6417 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Last album was trash. The TMT review really nailed it as to why.

This is pretty good, but hold myself is awful.

Digging: The Shaolin Afronauts - Flight of the Ancients

SandwichBubble
March 30th 2021


12681 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Thanks all.

This is a borderline 3.5, but I just couldn't. Album just feels a bit disingenuous after the last one.

ArsMoriendi
March 30th 2021


33637 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

i've never heard I Can Feel You Creep Into My Private Life, but I quite like it this



It's quite different from w h o k i l l and I think it works mostly, though the min of silence is a waste of time

Digging: Van Morrison - His Band and the Street Choir

Slex
March 30th 2021


10984 Comments


I will never ever ever ever take flak from you over my listening habits again after this

Good review but yeah these peeps have always been nails on a chalkboard for me tbh

Digging: Kali Masi - Laughs

ArsMoriendi
March 30th 2021


33637 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

If mainstream pop music as cool "nowhere, man " would become a top 40 single



too bad it's not

ArsMoriendi
March 30th 2021


33637 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

TBH this is better upon 3rd listen than it was on 1st



If you were shaky on this, I deff recommend a relisten or two

rabidfish
March 30th 2021


6417 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

i think skipping some tracks will def help on a 2nd listen.

ArsMoriendi
March 30th 2021


33637 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

hold yourself. and under your lip are the only weak ones imo

someone
March 30th 2021


2734 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

listening now



it's half quirky fun and half really unbearable

Squiggly
March 30th 2021


207 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Pos, I really agree with all the points you made Sandwich. This is gud. I def need a relisten.

Digging: The Antlers - Hospice

aok
March 31st 2021


4576 Comments


interesting. i always associate tune yards with conrad tao =]. good review, might check this soon



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