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7:12 PM on 03.05.2010 // Xzyliac
I Review Them In Stereo: Tourist History, Tunng, but no Gorillaz...



I Review Them In Stereo is a feature where I review albums, typically new releases, sometimes oldies, not many compilations, across just about any genre you can name.



Album: Tourist History
Artist: Two Door Cinema Club
Label: Kitsune Music (Europe), Glassnote Records (US)
Released: February 26, 2010 (Ireland), March 1, 2010 (UK), TBD Spring (US)
Genre: Indie
*Sub-genres Electropop, Indie pop, New rave
Sounds like: Owl City, early New Young Pony Club

Tourist History is one of those albums that has been catching more and more steam as it’s come down the pipeline. Magazines, polls, and blogs have been hyping it up, snazzy music videos have been making their way around the web, and it seemed like the boys from Ireland who call themselves Two Door Cinema Club may be joining the ranks of Franz Ferdinand in electropop glory.

Before we address that we have to get to the nitty gritty first. Tourist History is not the most challenging album in the world. It doesn’t ask you to join it on a symphony of grandeur. The 30-minute long album is composed entirely of quick tracks that play it safe. You’ve got your indie guitar, your catchy bass, your heavy drums, synth, and your high pitched singer. There’s really not much more to elaborate on. That’s the first thing I personally noticed. The tracks were blazing by in pretty rapid pace. It doesn’t work against the album at all but I can see how it could be easily criticized as lazy.

The actual composition of every track is also pretty by the books. You’re not gonna find many complicated hooks or layers here. What you are gonna find is a hell of a lot of atmosphere and personality crammed into every song. Say what you will about these snippets of music but they are composed extremely well. While some tracks do bog themselves down with repetition the sound is very electropop and the occasional tempo break is made all the more memorable for it.

The biggest fault of the album is the lyrical content and it gave me quite a few chuckles. They’re just really cheesy. They don’t say much and frankly they’re not remotely good. I mean not even passable for pop. I facepalmed quite a few times. Granted on an album like this lyrical content is not the biggest selling point but it’s hard to ignore the lyrics when your singer is trying so hard to deliver the message of your music.

However the music is delivered pretty well. Overall the album succeeds at what it tries to do. My problem is it only succeeds at that. It doesn’t really deliver much more than Saturday night background noise. I can’t think of anyone who I would recommend it to as an album to just sit in your car and jam to. It’s a decent enough album but it just can’t serve up the musical gold like Ferdinand or NYPC. It is a shame too because the hype was really behind it if that’s your scene.

Personal favorite tracks: Come Back Home, Do You Want It All, Undercover Martyn

Summary for lazy people: A lot of hype for a mediocre album with decent composition but little ambition.



Album: …And Then We Saw Land
Artist: Tunng
Label: Full Time Hobby (UK)
Released: March 1, 2010 (UK)
Genre: Folk
*Sub-genres Folktronica
Sounds like: Where The Wild Things Are soundtrack, Simon & Garfunkel, Bat for Lashes

This week I was biting at the bit for some good music. After the disappointment that was Tourist History I began looking around for something to lift my spirits and keep me occupied until next week’s onslaught of amazing albums. In my search I found Tunng’s latest release, …And Then We Saw Land.

First things first, as always, we’re gonna delve into first impressions. The first track, Hustle, is probably the most appropriate opening track I have heard for any album in a long time. It perfectly sets the mood for the entire album with an incredible array of strings, synth, African percussion, and a choir of smooth voices that paint a wonderful palette of emotions. Words cannot express how good I felt about the rest of the album after hearing that first track. That’s one of the first things I noticed.

Every individual track on the album is composed just as well as the first with special usage of electronica elements sprinkled in to add an extra bit of kick to each song. It really helps bring out a unique flavor in every track and doesn’t ever feel unnecessary or overplayed like some electronic experiments do. That’s something I have to commend the artists for doing in particular. In an album like Couples by The Long Blondes for example the group, in my opinion, often fell into the trap of using special electronica elements where the typical four-man rock setup would’ve done just fine. The result was they would drown their fantastic pop style with pointless bits of fluff. It was like having a delicious basket of fries with just a little too much salt. What Tunng does to their advantage with their special brand of folk is they make it so the sounds are so subtle, and yet so flavorful, that it’s difficult to imagine the songs without those little synth or loop bits. It’s such a tiny detail with such a powerful effect.

Helping to make an already incredible album all the better, the lyrics of Tunng are the stuff poets dream of. Here’s a taste:

A trick of the light, a turn of the tide
A rift in a valley, full moon in July
Red summer sun mourning, a cold April sky,
That lonely October, so cruel to deny.

A Wish for a fountain lost in the wind
A kick from a new life about to begin
A south facing island that floods in the spring
Will call to October new life, it will bring
-October

Every track on …And Then We Saw Land is filled with this beautiful poetry. The imagery, allegory, and drama that each piece brings with it reminds folk listeners why they enjoy the genre to begin with. Even if the music doesn’t interest you I cannot imagine anyone who could read some of these lyrics and not be impressed at the least.

So finally does the album do justice to the parts that construct it? Yes. A boldfaced yes. Tunng’s …And Then We Saw Land recaptures one of the great lost arts of music: consistency. The album is consistently taking you on new journeys without tugging you around or demanding some harsh change of pace. However it isn’t repetitive either. Like any journey the album is full of tempo changes and sound changes that recapture your attention every time. With this consistency behind it’s already magnificent composition and a strong presentation Tunng’s …And Then We Saw Land cannot do wrong to anyone who will appreciate it.

Personal favorite tracks: October, With Wiskey, These Winds

Summary for lazy people: A consistently beautiful piece of art. I’d go so far as to say one of the best albums of this year.

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Plastic Beach needs to hurry it's ass up. Happy Friday everyone!

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