Review: Tu Fawning – A Monument
Published on May 22nd, 2012 | Jonny Abrams
There’s been quite the production line of good music emerging from Portland of late, but Tu Fawning’s follow-up to their 2010 debut LP Hearts on Hold trumps most all of it in terms of drama, dark majesty and sheer ‘lucid dream’ soundscapery.
A Monument is the sound of an imagination wrenched open like Pandora’s box, albeit with frequently magical rather than disastrous consequences. Opener “Anchor” feels like “Like a Prayer” with the tacky beat sawn off and refitted with curiously rumbling drums that proceed to underpin the album in forebodingly ceremonial fashion. Corrina Repp’s voice sounds fantastic, toying commandingly with tension and release and laying the foundations for some rich harmonies in the process, while the probing, syncopated bassline further evidences a unit that’s firing on all cylinders.
After the ominous gospel march of “Blood Stains”, the fabulously multi-faceted “Wager” meets Deerhoof and Florence and the Machine halfway, if you can imagine such a thing, paving the way for “Build a Great Cliff” to dazzle the senses with baritone brass, monastic harmonies, fuzzy guitar and an arrestingly unusual rhythm. It’s hard to believe that Tu Fawning exist in the same realm as Keane, let alone the fact that they’ve released albums in the same month – it really does take all sorts, doesn’t it?
“In the Center of Powder White” sounds like it’s approaching Bowser’s castle before acquiring a vague pop mask, “To Break Into” is twinkly gloom that catches fire and burns brightly as big singalong, while closer “Bones” goes instrumental for three minutes over a clacking, cuckooing rhythm section before launching into splendorous sweetness to counter all the paranoia twilight that’s gone before it.
Goodness knows how Tu Fawning pull this stuff off live. In the meantime, you may tire of the unrelenting solemnity on A Monument, but you can’t help but admire the ingenuity that’s been poured into it. Impressive stuff, if not one for every occasion.
Rocksucker says: Three and a Half Quails out of Five!