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4.7 out of 5 stars
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4.7 out of 5 stars
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Three albums in and Merrill Garbus shows little sign of compromising
her hand-made, rough-and-ready schtick. 'Nikki Nack' is every bit as
gloriously unpredictable as her first two outings 'Bird-Brain' (2009)
and 'Whokill' (2011). Ms Garbus' box of sonic tricks brims over with
joyously bouncy beats and abrasive vocal harmonies. The energy is
addictive and the words are often very, very funny indeed.

Single 'Water Fountain', with its rattling African rhythms, had me
gasping for breath and laughing like a Wolf possessed; so too the
jazzy click-and-shuffle of 'Hey Life' which demonstrates, just in case
we hadn't noticed already, what a very fine singer she truly is.There
are so many sonic treats in the set that it's hard to pick a winner
but the stripped back funk of 'Wait For A Minute', with its beautifully
sinuous melody and wasp-in-a-bottle synth licks, comes as close as any.

Quirky. Curiously Soulful. Musically Intriguing. 'Nikki Nack' has got the lot.

Highly Recommended.
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on 5 May 2014
Though it’s fashionable to blame incestuous parts of the reviewing community for showering praise here when the music-buying public think it’s better deserved there, there often exists good reasons to explain the gulf between the critically lauded and the commercially successful. Foremost of these is that the critic, in most cases, is in his position because he is a music fan – one that wants to love new music as much, if not more so, than the next man. And, in this dual role, he will have heard a lot of music – more so, on average, than that next man. This is not carte blanche to trust his taste implicitly of course. The unbiased critic however is, at the very least, unlikely to put his weight behind the ordinary. He’s already heard that a 1000 times before. He’s looking for stand-outs and, boy, has colourful weirdo Merrill Garbus done so consistently since her arrival in 2009.

Nikki Nack is Garbus’s third LP and, again, it’s a rather wonderful pop album, but, as her career to date has shown, the newcomer won’t be given an easy ride for hers is a very particular brand of melting-pot future-pop. Where the similarly enlightened Claire Boucher of Grimes drew heavily from K-pop on her spectacular Visions LP, here Garbus digs deeply into African-American history, decorating her multi-tracked, kitchen-sink madness with celebratory vocal snippets that originated on the open savannah before being dragged to the cotton fields and then into the gospel harmonies.

Strong, hand-clapped rhythms such as those that feature alongside clipped R&B in the killer “Real Thing” only strengthen this position, while the rootsy “Rocking Chair” and its fiddle are as traditional as you’re ever gonna get on a tUnE-yArDs record. Nikki Nack is not simple genre tourism however – it’s personal. The angry closer repeatedly states that Garbus has “something to say” and talks about meaning it too, so it’s no surprise to find hidden in her hedonistic confetti of effects and time signatures subjects as heavy as racism and societal greed.

Fear not though quirky pop fans for Nikki Nack remains very much the product of Garbus’s unique mind and wide-ranging register. Who else could even hope to get away with a macabre, Swiftian pun/skit, so too breaking from a lovely passage of her true singing voice to turn in a credible Michael Jackson impression? Her humour is intact too as heard over the jump-rope rhythms of lead single “Water Fountain”. She’s been given a “blood-soaked dollar … but it’s ok / It still work in the store”.

When art is as rich as this the critic’s job is an easy one. His job is simply to deflect the energy of the medium onto the public. Artistically speaking, indifference is of course feared above hatred and, though it’s all relative, Nikki Nack does settle down into a more straightforward set after a luxurious opening four. Garbus needn’t worry though because her joyous LP still deserves both critical and public acclaim. Whether it’ll get it is another thing altogether.

Best tracks: “Time Of Dark” and “Real Thing”
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on 10 May 2014
This is an album of 10,000 different ideas coming at you one after the other. For a few listens it's a bit overwhelming, but every time you hear it you notice something different so it keeps you coming back. The production is excellent so if you've got a good hi-fi you'll be well rewarded. I'm currently listening to it as the perfect antidote to the Eurovision Song Contest, :-)
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on 29 August 2015
One of the top five contemporary female composer/musicians alive (2015) who is producing innovative music. Unlike frauds who use auto-tune (almost every manufactured charting pop artiste alive today), Merrill Garbus (founder of tUnE-yArDs), possesses a fantastic singing voice which is used to perfection in her unique art pop compositions. This, her third album, should have have been made a year from publication as it lacks some of the genius running through WHOKILL. Still, being one of only a handful of brilliant female artists who have a real and original talent, it would be churlish to complain.
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on 17 October 2014
Merrill Garbus, the mastermind behind tUnE-yArDs, has always been capable of capturing lightning in a bottle. Possessing a blatantly powerful voice, a cut-paste production style and a vast array of sounds, she sticks out like a sore thumb. With Nikki Nack, Garbus has refined the rugged qualities of previous albums Bird Brains and Whokill, creating a more accessible beast without sacrificing her off-kilter pop eccentricities.

From the bombardment of drums and keys twenty seconds into opener “Find a New Way”, the listener is hurled into wave upon wave of sound and ever-shifting time signatures. tUnE-yArDs delivers a tribal ruckus, chanting infectious hooks among skittering drumbeats. Other tracks follow suit, including standout single “Water Fountain”. Arguably the catchiest song tUnE-yArDs has conceived to date, Garbus flaunts a comical, childlike charm as she roars through an irresistible chorus, valiantly harmonising amid multiple layers of her voice to a glorious climax.

As Nikki Nack gallops forward, Garbus gradually adds extra ingredients to her melting pot of creativity. The r'n'b flavoured “Real Thing” bears similarities to Destiny’s Child and lyrically addresses the emptiness of fame, while synth-laden “Wait for a Minute” is comparable to the likes of Little Dragon and Dirty Projectors. The tracks are much more subdued than the tantrums of noise exuded elsewhere, and surprisingly Nikki Nack offers many delicate moments in addition to this. “Look Around” and “Time of Dark” present an entirely different side of tUnE-yArDs, and provide ample breathing room between her energetic output.

Unfortunately, Nikki Nack does suffer from some unimaginative spots. The final few tracks are nowhere near as memorable as tUnE-yArDs could (and should) be, and some may be disappointed with the lack of Garbus’ ukulele-playing chops, a staple of previous releases. Despite this, Nikki Nack generally succeeds in shooting for an electronic direction that doesn’t detract from tUnE-yArDs winning formula; her almost fearless approach to sound and voice, providing us with one of the most colourful records of the year.

Read more reviews like this one: http://www.drunkenwerewolf
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on 27 September 2014
What can I say - This has to be album of the year.... after the first two I didn't think she could get any better but she's gone off the map/radar... the vocal confidence is wonderful... it's all over the place but beautiful & refreshing 10/10 -
This is what music is all about xxx
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on 1 June 2014
This had instant appeal,previous albums needed two or three listens before clicking.This,i think,is the most inventive so far & the vocals are just stunning,almost have an african or a world music feel to them.Musically this is hard to describe but quirky pop just about sums it up.
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on 3 July 2014
Addictive, original, infectious, joyful. Garbus is a singular talent.
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on 11 January 2015
The ideas & rhythms make it a cut above. The amount of stuff in here may be a bit too
much for some but well worth the effort.
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on 9 December 2014
I had heard some of the tracks on radio 6. When played loud you won't be able to stop yourself from dancing.
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