Review: tUnE-yArDs – Nikki Nack

It’s the third full-length release from experimental music project tUnE-yArDs, AKA Merrill Garbus. It’s a deliciously confusing and messy mixture of squeaky synths and world music drums.

From the dictaphone and GarageBand history of 2009’s BiRd-BrAiNs to the success of sophomore effort w h o k i l l in 2011, Garbus has never been one to shy away from exploring new sounds and layering them with commercial melodies. Nikki Nack is no exception.

On this record, Garbus drops the music completely on ‘Why Do We Dine On The Tots’, for a spoken interlude about Grandfather Lou and a Tupperware dish (and eating children.) Two tracks later, she’s deployed a pseudo R&B beat that quickly becomes overtaken by barking sound effect samples. It’s like listening to a vocoder wonderfully explode and the result being converted into a DJ set. It may not be catchy, but it’s certainly a party.

Yet, for the lack of obvious catchiness and powerful lyrical content to fill the gaps, Garbus tells us “we wouldn’t let them take our soil,” on ‘Left Behind’ in a defiant message amongst the musical madness. It’s high energy fun and fearlessness that is at the core of this record, but there’s no compromise on sophistication as a result.