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AU61: tUnE-yArDs album review

January 4, 2010

TUNE-YARDS
BIRD-BRAINS
4AD

Merrill Garbus recorded this debut album herself in the most lo-fi way imaginable these days (a digital voice recorder and free software) and doesn’t it just show? It’s scratchy, hissy and rough, and sometimes the bass interrupts with a blast of unintended distortion, but the miraculous thing is that Garbus’s songwriting survives it. And then some. She signed to 4AD and was picked to tour with the Dirty Projectors, and things like that don’t happen by chance. Highlights like the ass-shaking Afro-pop of ‘Hatari’, the eerie nursery rhyme ‘Lions’ and the dancehall-infused ‘Jamaican’ show just how far you can push such a simple set-up. The singing is heartfelt, the cut-up arrangements often ingenious and the songs frankly wonderful. What we have here is a pop maverick, and if you can stomach the bargain-basement sound and the 54-minute runtime, then you’re in for a bit of a treat.

8/10

DOWNLOAD: ‘HATARI’, ‘SUNLIGHT’, ‘LIONS’.
FOR FANS OF: MICACHU & THE SHAPES, DIRTY PROJECTORS, RUBY LIONS.

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