Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Record Review: Tapes 'n Tapes: Walk it Off

The Minneapolis-based, blog-beloved indie rock band releases the follow-up to their strong debut.

Rating: 3.5/5

Listening to Walk It Off is an akin experience to realizing that girl you had a summer crush on a few years back is suddenly in your life again, and your relationship with her may wind up being deeper than you originally thought.

Before I start gushing, here’s the main problem with Tapes ‘n Tapes, and it’s an admittedly troubling one. They virtually have no identity; the songs they make could honestly come from any indie band in the world. It’s fortunate, then, that they make such good songs, because they are basically every indie rock band out today compiled into one convenient unit.

Yet Walk It Off finds the band trying to demand a voice of its own. The album has two truly high points, the anthemic peaks they build on songs like “Hang Them All” and “Headshock” being the stronger of the two. If I’m ever in a position to see them live, I absolutely can’t wait to see the fist-pumping madness of the final refrain of the former, a legitimately powerful echo of “Hang them alllll, hang them a-la-lalll!”

Elsewhere, they’ve expanded on the emotional gravitas of Loon standout “Omaha.” “Time for Songs” puts Josh Grier’s ambiguous lyrics behind a tender guitar line and harmonious backing vocals, making you perfectly vulnerable before “Hang Them All” arrives to kick your ass. “Say Back Something” was the first point where I looked at Grier as a legitimate front man- the guy’s got pipes- while also showcasing the band as a whole at its best. Here, Grier is completely free of the vocal effects that occasionally plague the album, and the result is fantastic.

Song for song, the first half of Walk It Off matches up against the best things I’ve heard this year. Unfortunately, the second half sags a bit. Slightly maligned producer Dave Fridmann, mastermind of the critically-lukewarm albums Some Loud Thunder and At War With The Mystics, won’t be winning any awards here either. His most grievous offense is probably “Blunt”, a head-bopping pop-rock song hidden behind layers of unnecessary distortion. “Demon Apple” goes absolutely nowhere, and “Lines” would have made a much more suitable closer than the messy messy “The Dirty Dirty.” Oh, and there’s a song called “George Michael.” It’s decent enough, but… it’s called “George Michael.”

But kudos to Tapes for defying the blogosphere backlash (these guys were heroes upon The Loon’s arrival, only to be disowned months later by some of the same kids who initially embraced them.) I loved The Loon, and although Walk It Off contains a bit too many missteps for me to feel the same way, I’m more satisfied than not regarding the result.

So long live the Tapes, for they are here to stay. Everybody!
“Hang them alllll! Hang them a-la-lalll!”

-Andrew Stone

Tapes 'n Tapes - Hang Them All

Buy: Amazon Insound MySpace

No comments: