- The production here really rounds the edges of tUnE-yArDs sharp technopop sound.
- The majority of the tracks here are infectiously catchy and danceable.
Since the release of debut album ‘BiRd-BrAiNs’ in 2009, Merrill Garbus’ music project tUnE-yArDs has been consistent in it’s pursuit of experimentation, with sounds as varied as afrobeat, funk, technopop, and folk all finding their way in to the melting pot. Their previous album, 2014’s ‘Nikki-Nack’, was very well received by critics, with Sputnikmusic describing it as “a joyous record which sees Garbus bursting at the seams with restless energy and tremendous creativity.”
Likewise, on fourth album ‘I Can Feel You Creeping Into My Private Life’, Garbus explores the record’s themes here with creative energy and flare, as we’ve come to expect from her project. But it’s also the most straightforward pop album that has been released under the tUnE-yArDs name thus far. That’s because long-time collaborator Nate Brenner has now officially joined the band, and the increased amount of time the duo have spent together writing and recording this album is evident in the 80’s-style production on tracks such as ‘ABC 123’ and ‘Look At Your Hands’. They’re effervescent, inherently dance-able and soulful tracks which combine Merrill’s penchant for snappy drums and layered vocals, and Nate’s slinky bass grooves, with a fuller overall sound.
More than the infectious sound though, ‘I Can Feel You Creeping Into My Private Life’ features some cleverly reflective lyricism, aimed at exploring the issues of race and gender politics, and the environment, and how that is manifested in the actions taken by individuals. ‘Coast To Coast’ focuses on the potential devastation caused by rising sea levels, with a brooding bassline and shimmering synth making the track sound almost ethereal, drowned by the sea itself, before the signature snapped drum beats and soaring vocals signal the chorus. At times, Merrill speaks in first person; on ‘Colonizer’, for example, where she talks of using her “… white woman’s voice to tell stories of travels with African men…” and hearing “… the blood in my voice…”. Meanwhile, on ‘Now As Then’, Merrill sings about not wanting to be “… a woman if it means not being human…” on a track which deals with the conflicting elements of feminism and how this conflict is played out within herself.
‘I Can Feel You Creeping Into My Private Life’ sounds like a record that epitomises modernity. Initially it’s an uncompromising, colourful blast of eclectic technopop, which you can’t help but dance and jive to. But on closer inspection, it’s also a vehicle for the duo to voice their discontent, a moment of introspection as much as it asks questions of it’s listener. Can we really be content with the present without recognising both the context which has led us here, and the ways in which our future is threatened?
On this record the duo have managed to come up with something which both expands their eclectic sound, allowing it to blossom in the process with it’s nostalgic 80’s production, while being increasingly bolder with their lyrical content. No mean feat, but Merrill and Nate pass it off with ease.
‘I Can Feel You Creeping Into My Private Life’ will be released on 19/01/2018 via 4AD, and tUnE-yArDs will embark on a UK tour in March 2018.