Put Us in Tune


If I had to pick the best compilation of the 1990s, I’d have a hard time coming up with just one entry, but I’m pretty sure Carry On Ooij, a mid-’90s selection of Benelux and American bands from the Dutch label Brinkman Records, would be one of them. Prior to Put Us in Tune. that was all I’d heard of Thou, whose Portishead-like “Phony Sirleen” out-noired the best of them.

It’s not good to build expectations on a single track, but those rare times where they’re met make it all worthwhile. Put Us in Tune is full of smoky seduction, plunging fuzz, loping bass and that quirky continental pop sense. Male and female vocals trade places, and the band’s mood is as mercurial as the choice of vocalist, ranging from the smooth jazz club swagger in “Panic Breaks” to the savage hypnotic burblings of “Cool.” “Weak Lady” sounds more than a bit conflicted, with a delicate melody underlaid with a seductive chorus of “hurry, hurry hit me, hurry, don’t you hit me.”

Musically, Thou are equally adept at physical and electronic instrumentation, seamlessly blending the two and funneling the efforts through John Parish, whose expert production has guided PJ Harvey and Bettie Serveert. For all their silky sunshine and sweetness, you get the feeling that underneath Thou’s brightest moments is a layer blacker than deep space. If you’re in the mood for something as delicate as a rose thorn, Thou is it.

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