Thursday, 26 January 2012

The 2kDozen 500: #35 - tUnE-yArDs, "W H O K I L L"

Scrappy, messy, inventive pop business from Oakland.

One of those many acts whose name I've seen here and there, and had no real idea how they sound. One of the acts that has inspired me to try and rectify that sorry, sorry situation. Sorry about the situation. This album is from April, I think. April from the past, not the future.

Scraps of recordings from street dictaphone wanderings. Random drum machine bursts. Ideas spilling out from everywhere, loose guts sink streets. Hard to know where to start. Has a sort of Talking Heads feel.

"Riotriot" has a great bit where TY sings "There is a freedom in violence that I don't understand and like I've never felt before" before a fiesta of fun burst out all brassily behind her. Riotriot - not much more 2011 than that, is there? "Bizness" has a fantastic, shuffling Afropop bounce while she sings "Don't take my life away" over a jolly sax background. There's a theme of violence and assault and territory written across the album. Maybe she's not so keen in life in Oakland? "Never move to my hood/Cos danger is crawling out the wood." Fair enough. Maybe she sees this menace everywhere? Maybe I'm missing the point.

 "I've gotta be right if my body's tight, right?"

"Doorstep" is sung from the point of view of a woman whose boyfriend has been shot by the police right outside their house. Pretty distressing story. I don't know whether to hope whether this happened to her or not. If not her, I suppose it must've happened to someone. But even if she's feeling under siege, tUnE-yArDs has decided to stay on the move - "If home is where the heart is, baby/Then my home is inside you." This track ("You Yes You") sums up the combative positivity that pumps through the centre of the album.

"Ready or not, I'm a new kind of Killa.. All my violence is here in the sound."

The instruments are immediate and lively. They really feel in the room, clean and hungry. Saxes wail in imitation of police sirens. Her voice is juicy and urgent, often burbling along behind her main vocal. It's more immediate than I'm used to, I might prefer a bit of ironic distance. But I like this.

Rating: Everything's Alright out of Uptight Outtasight

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