Album Review



by Tapes 'n Tapes

4.5 / 10
14th March, 2011

Reviewed by Vincent Michaelsen

Tapes ‘n Tapes caused a lot of hustle and bustle a few years ago when the Minneapolis four piece released their debut album ‘The Loon’, but the battle to deliver another first-rate LP has left the band more than a little behind the play. While the group’s first flunkout ‘Walk It Off’ could be dismissed as the result of an independent group struggling with big-time record labels, it is less forgivable for another unimpressive album two years down the track when the band have regained their independence. As just when we thought the band were back to their old cool selves, Tapes ‘n Tapes have given us ‘Outside’, a somewhat boring and sometimes frustrating album to listen to which struggles to stand out on it’s own merit.

Album opener ‘Badaboom’ does start pretty well. It’s clean and restrained in a ‘The National’ kind of way that the band worked so well with songs like ‘Manitoba’. But within two minutes of the new album Josh Grier’s persistent rhyming of the words ‘rear, ear, near, here and dear’ become a little grinding. Sure, all songs are based on a fair bit of rhyme, but there seems little to be said in this case to call for such repetition. And while it’s clear that the group have matured since their debut, the apparent dumping of the quirky eccentricities that made the band great a few years ago has left them in a murk of a million American soft rock bands. This is the feeling that is most striking throughout the album, a general drabness, not so much of the mood but the colour of the album – nothing really cuts. Tracks like ‘SWM’ and ‘Nightfall’ have some great instrumental sections that really set an atmosphere about the album but a lack of hooks or great lines to seal the deal leaves them to slip past and be forgotten.

It would be unfair however to say ‘Outside’ is an album which should be avoided completely, and perhaps one can get a little carried away when picking out another’s faults. There are certainly some worthwhile tracks like ‘Hidee Ho’ and ‘On And On’ which should be excluded from all previous nit picking. The end of the album and these tracks in particular sound far less trying and a lot more convincing. Grier’s vocals move between an untroubled croon to a genuine Hamilton Leithause styled growl of The Walkmen. Whilst there still is plenty to be enjoyed on ‘Outside’, the album is overshadowed by a lack of originality, novelty or anything really refreshing that make the songs or the band great.

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