Tilly & the Wall
For those already in on the musical secret that is Tilly & the Wall, it should come as no surprise that their latest (third) album is yet another raging success. The warm-hug vocals of Neely Jenkins and Kianna Alarid are at the forefront, though you’ll still find resident boy vocalist Derek Pressnall making lead appearances here and there. Once more serving as the base that the whole Technicolor fun springs off of are the tap-dancing, percussive beats of Jamie Pressnall. For those unfamiliar with this Omaha five-piece, when I say “tap dancing percussive beat,” I am not being poetic — I mean tap-dancing! It’s a fantastically original concept, and one that I don’t think has ever been done before — at least not successfully.
Though this latest release is technically untitled, for convenience’s sake it’s become known as O because of the oval on its cover. Buyers may notice different artwork behind the O-shaped frame because the band has brought in multiple artists to create limited-edition album covers. This could spell major debt for collectors who insist on tracking down every possible version!
Musically, this album has sharpened up the edges and finds Tilly & the Wall exploring new territories of sound. The album’s standout track, “Pot Kettle Black,” could easily be confused for a Yeah Yeah Yeahs song, or even a newly unearthed Bikini Kill tune. With its lyrics about gossip and bad mouthing, it shows a darker, angrier side of the band, while still retaining the ever present child-like innocence. It’s so strong a song that it really should have been the album opener, rather than “Tall Tall Grass,” the record’s sole ballad. While a gorgeous song, I’m a big believer in starting things off with a bang and would have saved “Tall Tall Grass” for a mid-album break.
A welcome addition to the Tilly arsenal is somewhat nostalgic alternative rock sensibility. “Alligator Skin (Jumbler),” and “Dust Me Off” both bleed of a Breeders influence and “Falling Without Knowing” feels like The Sundays, or a feminine take on My Bloody Valentine or New Order.
Disco is another heavy flavor this time around, and though I’m not a big disco diva, I can’t resist the pull of “Cacophony” and “Blood Flower.”
Closing out the disc is a rambunctious and wild track that, true to the band’s tradition, takes things out on an upbeat, tap-heavy note. When “Too Excited” ends, I inevitably find myself starting the album over again. In that sense, maybe the title O should reference not an oval but a circle, because this album is continuous for those who fall victim to it.
Tilly & the Wall: www.tillyandthewall.com