Fronted by Merrill Garbus and longtime musical partner Nate Brenner, Tune-Yards has been releasing their eclectic version of alternative pop music for over a decade now. On their sixth studio album sketchy., the duo have once again reached new heights in the experimental music world. The album is hyper and chaotic and will forever have fans wondering about the various production techniques that went into this record. But while production gurus might find this body of work fascinating, those who just arrive for the music might not be so interested.
The most captivating moments on sketchy. come midway through the album during “silence pt.1 (when we say “we”)”. Contrary to the name, the track is anything but silent. The group takes a cosmic approach to electronic music and doesn’t shy away from including operatic harmonies and comprehensive studio techniques. Think “Bohemian Rhapsody” meets Daft Punk.
The song is followed up on track six with “silent pt.2 (who is “we”?)”. This time the song holds true to its name and gives fans nothing. No noise. Silence. While unconventional, it’s actually a nice break halfway through the record. With the beginning of this album being chaotic and disorderly, an entire minute of no noise allows for a sonic reset going into the album’s second half.
Sketchy.’s more consumable contributions come from “hold yourself.” and “under your lip.” The former takes a more simplistic approach to songwriting and sees the least amount of experimentation compared to other songs on the album. While it still incorporates both a lucrative horns section and dynamic vocal harmonies, “hold yourself.” is arguably the most straightforward track on the record. The song showcases Merrill Garbus as the talented vocalist that she is and leaves behind an uplifting feeling of solidarity.
“Under your lip” continues to place emphasis on Garbus, where she shines on the song’s impressive and resounding chorus. With most of the album focusing on instrumentation, it’s refreshing to have vocals highlighted on both of these tracks. The album’s thought provoking lyrics are dynamic yet the sound still caters to a specific niche of alternative indie pop.
Undoubtably, experimentation is the driving force behind sketchy. The entire record is filled with contrasting sounds and sonic elements that confuse the mind and make people think. While their unorthodox approach to songwriting might please some, this album is not for those less curious. The music is deep rooted in production and is not easily digestible but long time fans will surely find something to enjoy. Others, might just favour the silence on track six.
order Sketchy by Tune-Yards HERE