Distortion has so often been a tool for aggression and fierce rock, that hearing it used to accent sorrow or even happiness is often a revelation. For Tanukichan’s newest release deep pits of reverb and chorus are ripped open by sharp guitars and taken to somewhere completely new. Though it’s overdone at times, this album serves as a tone-piece for an entire new sound.
As the dense walls of distortion fade out on “Lazy Love” a dreamy and slow vocal rock takes over to lull listeners into the dynamic sound palette that Tanukichan plays with. Every time it seems as though she’s about to hit a glossy flat-line, the song quickly descends into chambers of raw guitar that become more discordant than you could imagine. “The Best” brightens things up a little more for a song as rich with hope as it is melancholy. As brutally simple as its writing is, there’s so much weight to its emotional content that you’ll be overcome either way.
While the overt levels of fuzz and distortion are often a lot to take in with Tanukichan’s work, within tracks such as “Like The Sun” you can truly hear the melodic brilliance that lies underneath. Though her best work strikes a more clever and dynamic balance with volume, there’s something oddly powerful to her constant wash of effect-laden riffs. “Bitter Medicine” chugs out with the most palpable 80s influence on the record, while its bass hooks project a much more subdued punk energy. Here however Tanukichan brings her pop charm to the forefront as her glossy harmonies play with shimmering chorus in a wondrous dance.
All the subtlety of the rest of the album disappears on the blunt walls of fuzz in “Hunned Bandz” where Tanukichan lets her heavenly vocals provide a stark counterpoint to the otherwise abrasive noise. By giving her melodies such a harsh wall to play against, every note has more of a punch and feels as grimy as it is soft. While “Natural” does layer things rather than contrast them, there’s a saturated bliss to the sound she gets out of it. Jaded but perfectly happy, Tanukichan sun-drenches her guitars into a seemingly endless void she can play with.
Heading into the second half of the album, the sonic world present starts to become a greater pull in and of itself. Tracks like “The Blue Sky” while inherently sharp, just feel a little too melodically close to everything else to really stand out. Though “Sundays” even suffers from this to a degree, especially with its laid-back delivery, there’s something oddly chipper to it that stands out from the rest of the album. Here by not overdoing the distortion, there’s such a richness to the overall sound and melodies that it becomes intoxicating to hear the music at last uncovered from so much grungy weight.
Shifting her sound into hope and happiness, “Perfect” steps out like a new sun, while the dredges of the past hang in the corners. Using her vocals to pepper in a warmth sorely missing from most of the record, this track shows not all is lost for the singer. With a vintage sheen, the album closes out on “This Time” as a sense of triumph takes over her guitars and lets her synths show a new path for her to follow.
Words by Owen Maxwell