Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Album Review: KT Tunstall - Tiger Suit (5/5)

Finally, I've found my only five-star album of the year so far. An album to finally unseat Plan B's Strickland Banks in the running for my album of the year. Scottish singer KT Tunstall's third album Tiger Suit is remarkable, an immaculate sound built around a perfect blend of acoustic-pop and folkish pop but also shimmering with layers of alternative rock and techno-ish dance influences, tied together with a wall of authentic lyrical depth.

Racketing "Uummannaq Song," opens the album, lyrically re-calling the same sass and nerve as American indie rock band Rilo Kiley ("It's my turn with the spotlight burning a hole"). Languished with layers of keyboard and maracas for the first few seconds, guitars and bold vocals kick in shortly after before the stronger guitar and 'board melodies come in to play, backed with drums and eccentric chanting stapled along with the trembling percussion for its penetrating chorus.

It's an awesome opener, very different to electrifying follow up "Glamour Puss," lined with distorted bass lines, bursts of subtle electronic guitar work, nicely complimented by jaunty whistling. I like the contrast, towards it's darker, grungy mid-section--gradually mudding over vocals with a static effects, rippling electronic guitars caving in before lightens up as it plays out. It's an invigorating track, but more interesting is the folky techno influenced "Push that Knot Away," pouncing with rhythmic bass lines and synths, eventually elevating to more complex strings of soundscapes, spacey dance beats and electronic sounds towards the end. Could be a potential dancefloor filler.

Progressive "Difficulty" opens with chugging layers of distorted electronic guitars, consistently increasing in pitch before other the harps, strings and penetrating hi-hats come into effect which all halt as the tempo kicks up for its psychedelic drum-driven play out. There's more variety in Tunstall's vocals on here, as she ascends into falsetto on some parts. Melody friendly "Fade Like a Shadow" is nice slice of alternative pop, creating a wall of quirky acoustic sounds; guitars, drums, percussion and bells for extra quirk.

"Lost," is a lovely restraint ballad, the first to really bank on emotion, for its first half anyway. Rapid drums kick in for its fast paced second half, psyched with entrancing chanting. It plays out softly though, with strings and heavy orchestration intact. "Golden Frames," is a haunting throwback to a raw acoustic sound (the track even opens with ghostly "wooo's") and her vocals are extra raspy, I guess to emphasize that raw effect. It's very downbeat, only really carried with guitars, percussion and haunting background noise.

Engaging "Come On Get In," is a fun guitar-driven romp, with a cool bassy break-down. It's the most fun Tunstall has on here. It's kinda similar to "Madame Trudeaux," which enjoys the same guitar-driven romp, but on a more serious note--it's another that re-calls the same spoken word akwardness as Rilo Kiley. "(Still A) Weirdo" is a gentle brewing acoustic ballad about never being able to fit in ("still a weirdo, still a weirdo after all these years").

"The Entertainer," brings the album to a close, a somber ballad, heavily driven by acoustic guitars, drums and melody. It's very heartfelt. Her voice here reminds me of Alanis Morrisette.

Tiger Suit doesn't sound like a vulnerable coming-to-terms moping behind a delicate fort of the same acoustic guitar patterns over and over again, the problem I usually have with acoustic pop artists (save for Jack Johnson), because there's normally never much to talk about and the sound normally gets tired halfway through. Tiger Suit has its introspective moments but is still a fun record without having to weigh in too much on risk taking and pushing the envelope but just delivering an enjoyable strong set of interesting songs without a dud in the bunch.

Best: Uummannaq Song, Glamour Puss, Fade Like a Shadow, Push that Knot Away, Lost, (Still A) Weirdo, Come On Get In

2 comments:

ww_adh said...

Wow. That is quite a review. I have her other two albums, but I wasn't really interested in hearing this one. Perhaps I need to rethink that.

J.Mensah said...

Thanks. I don't have her earlier work, I should think about getting those two albums while you should think about listening to this one. It's awesome.