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Tune-Yards makes eccentric statement with new album

Sometimes there comes along a rare artist who chooses to do something different with their music that completely blows the audience away—maybe this means that they leave the genre they are known for, or that they create a sound like nothing anyone has ever heard before. On Jan. 19, Tune-Yards managed to do just that with the release of their newest album “I can feel you creep into my private life”.

An American duo consisting of singer-songwriter Merrill Garbus, and bassist Nate Brenner, Tune-Yards has been known for its eccentricities. With an electric and indie-esque sound, Tune-Yards did not disappoint in their newest album, in fact, I was quite pleasantly surprised by what I found.

My interest in the group came from hearing one of their most famous singles “Water Fountain” that was released as a single in March of 2014. The sound was something I hadn’t heard from any other artists at the time, and the complex lyrics were able to capture and hold my attention. I found that “I can feel you creep into my private life” kept me listening in the same way.

Seemingly the most important part of their music, Tune-Yards’ songs tend to focus on different social issues that are happening currently in the country. Merrill Garbus who contributes vocals, lyrics, and some instrumentals to the group has tried to focus on her own privilege in this most recent album.

This is most specifically heard in the song “Colonizer” during which Garbus describes her privilege as a white woman in America. With lyrics like “I comb my white woman’s hair with a comb made especially, generally for me,” “I smell the blood in my own voice,” and the repeated word “colonizer,” Garbus tries to critique her white privilege. This particular song is perhaps also the most avant-garde out of all of the songs on the album in terms of sound. With a constant layering of different percussive elements and a mix of electronic and acoustic melodies, “Colonizer” stands out against the rest of the album. The most notable aspect of the song, however, is a large pause that cuts off the lyrics mid-sentence and convinces the listener that the song is over. Yet, not but a few seconds later, a voice comes back in singing softly the words “I can feel you creep into my private life.”

The last song on the album, “Free”, takes place directly after the song “Private Life”—assumedly the namesake of the album—which seemed like an interesting choice on the part of Tune-Yards. This particular song was very striking to me in the way that it played out. Starting with a low percussive sound almost reminiscent of a heartbeat, the song begins with the repeated word “free”. The repetition of this word throughout the song is also importantly juxtaposed by the phrase “don’t tell me I’m free”. However, much like in “Colonizer” all sounds cut out for a quite some time leading the listener to assume that the song has ended. When the silence ends, however, in “Free”, the song doesn’t resume with a hallowing message, but rather a frenzy of different sounds and whispered lyrics. The song, ending the album, comes to a close with a recording of Merrill Garbus explaining how the first song of the album “Heart Attack” would play out.

While Tune-Yards does some amazing lyrical work, I would say that there were not many songs on “I can feel you creep into my private life” that I would listen to on a daily basis. The album is hardly one to re-listen to unless you have a specific craving for bravely eccentric social statements. However, while Tune-Yards’ most recent album functions best as a one-time listen, it is definitely a musical experience to check out.

 

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