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Nikki Nack does suffer from some unimaginative spots
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.
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