Forget quirky, Merill Garbus must be mad, and that type styling of hers is just the tip off the iceberg. A legacy from her awkwardly intelligent debut BiRd-BrAiNs
, it does the job of setting the tone for the kitchen-sink inventiveness of W H O K I L L well - an album that, once again, is never anything less than interesting.
Cleaning up the majority of the voice digitalisation that characterised that debut, as well as its bedroom-budget recording, Garbus has a sleeker beast on her hands with W H O K I L L, but happily it's not one untrue to her cut-and-paste ethics.
At a glance, the uninitiated might mistake Garbus's eccentrics for wilful destruction of sound, optimistic throwing of everything within arm's reach with the hope that something sticks. Yet, there's a deft majesty at play that bleeds throughout the record, cleverly gluing its disparate elements together.
Amidst squelchy, foreign rhythms and demented sax arpeggios, determined drum pulses provide the foundation to the infectious opener "My Country". Garbus, in turn, here and elsewhere, is way out of her shell ranging from the spoken word through general shrieking and impossible notes. As a result, W H O K I L L quickly contorts itself into a party record for the mentally questionable.
Proof, if required, comes courtesy of "Gangsta" - a track that, at least during its opening bars, recalls the outsider awesomeness that Beck used to knock out for fun. Amongst other things, Garbus takes the opportunity during its running time to vocally mimic the siren that periodically interjects during her bubbly beats.
Thanks to a pretty ukulele performance and Garbus's best coo, "Powa" is given a gentle, lullaby-like quality, which is latterly given backbone by devolving into a bog-eyed soul-rock cut akin perhaps to a Sun Araw jam spliced with some classic Janis Joplin. Whereas, new recruit Nate Brenner`s funky bass-work in "Bizness" sets him and it apart, while Garbus uses the track to echo and loop her voice with such aplomb as to make Dave Longstreth's Dirty Projectors adjust the bar for this sort of summery weirdness.
With surprises at every turn that this reviewer won't spoil further, W H O K I L L is another remarkable tUnE-yArDs record. It would seem the sky is anything but the limit for Ms Garbus; with but her second album she is already exploring the stars.