Cranekiss is the third offering from Tamaryn, a vocalist born in New Zealand now living in New York. The ten-song album lasts 45 minutes and highlights a slow tempo with steady instrumentation that focuses on the melodic sounds coming from the guitars and the steady almost machine–like drums reflective of mid 80’s shoegaze with ethereal vocals centered in dream pop. The album starts out with a title track that shows off a little noodling around from the band but stays set in tempo and rhythm. “Hands All Over Me” is up next and embraces Tamaryn’s ghostly vocals even though they often float below the instrumentation. Diminished vocals vanish in “Last,” which has a fantastic intro that starts with synths. The music gradually grows to match Tamaryn’s vocals which soar in a way reminiscent of Cocteau twins and other ethereal wave bands that grew largely thanks to the rise of the early UK Shoegaze scene.
“Keep Calling” is a pure Dreampop powerhouse turned tour de force. Clocking in at five minutes and thirty seconds, it demands a lot of attentions. The instrumentation is clean and glassy in tone, and the vocals soft and almost inaudible. I found myself a little bored in the later section of the song as I thought it was about a minute too long.
Disinterest was quickly erased however as “Softcore” kicked in. A faster tempo comes in to play and contrasts interestingly with a pre-chorus and chorus that has a much darker tonal quality. This effect strips away the Dreampop for a few minutes and doesn’t let go of your attention. The fast tempo appears again in the album’s stand out track “Sugar Fix,” which shows off the best use of guitar, drums and vocals on the album and is sure to take your eyes off your shoes. I enjoyed this late addition of distortion and other production tweaks that pushed out of Dreampop and back towards signature Shoegaze qualities.
Though not my favourite work of hers to date, Cranekiss is in all honesty one heck of an intriguing piece of work from an artist who is no slouch at creating catchy music. Check out Les Demoniaques (her collaboration project with Dee Dee from Dum Dum girls) and the stellar cover of The Jesus and Mary Chain’s “Teenage Lust”, or the work she did for the short film Are You Okay (also a collaboration) and you’ll see what I mean. This album perhaps tries to cross too much musical ground in multiple genres.
Luke Williams grew up a fan of punk and pop punk in a field of cows just outside of Barrie, Ontario. You can follow him on Twitter @musicwithluke