Merrill Garbus’s splendid odd-pop project (do I really still have to capitalise tUnE-YaRdS like this?) is now formally a duo with Nate Bremmer, and they are back with a fully-fledged full-length album. I Can Feel You Creep Into My Private Life is pretty sleek production-wise, though that tasty tUnE-YaRdS wonkiness still remains. Out on 4AD.
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When the band is doing more than just wipe their windscreen, it’s kinda nice to hear them grow into their professional endgame. Merill Garbus has been growing tUnE-yArDs incrementally, moving her project’s initially jittery, noisy and no-fi aesthetic into different avenues of danceability. On ‘I Can Feel You Creep Into My Private Life’, she makes her most accessible record yet, an all cleaned up pop record with melodic throughlines that both honour and riff off of what we’ve come to expect of her.
The songs still stop and start -- on the opener, the music below her cuts out for her vocal to stamp its first mantra on the record, and songs like “Now as Then” bristle odd, poetic treatises against the classic broken grooviness of her old work. Overall, though, these songs feel like advanced takes on what she used to do: the squelching synths and sturdy rhythm of “ABC 123” offers a fuller and less abstracted take on proceedings, while all the components that make the intro to “Colonizer” so sporadic coalesce into a song of myriad hooks. It’s also the most self-aware song she’s ever made, suggesting that her music’s collaging and absorption of cultural signifiers should be examined from within itself.
This proves there’s still space for Garbus to be investigative and experimental in a newly refined version of her sound: tracks still wander and wonder, with the production suddenly flinging backwards on the choral elements of “Home”, offering space to breathe among a record of typically frenetic spirit. While it grooves a little easier, and comes together a little fuller, this is a likely winner for anyone interested in the intentional mismatch that has marked several years of tUnE-yArDs.
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