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Aly Tadros

The Fits


[Self-released; 2013]



By ; April 23, 2013 


Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOG

A well-travelled musician will often have stories to tell, and more often or not these tales will become the songs in which the musician in question travels with. While staying static can work for some artists, others need a multitude of experiences and encounters to help them realise their talent. Touring and moving from one location to the next brings the opportunity of new inspiration, but in the case of Aly Tadros who has spent the last decade travelling North America, Mexico, and the far-reaching corners of Europe, travelling sounds something like an escape. On her sophomore album, The Fits, she sounds like she’s constantly trying to move on from one city to the next in a bid to wash away the experiences that have befallen her.

She starts out with a rather sunny disposition, though, beginning on a trio of delicate finger-picked tracks that ease you into her rose-tinted world. “Sweet On Me” has her pining for another to reveal their feelings while on the breezy ukulele-led “It All” she recalls infatuation from the past and how it can drive us to somewhat extreme desires (“I want to strip it off of you like turpentine” she sings with an eagerness in her voice). Opening track “Silence and The Truth” quivers with both the guitar and violins and the lyrics convey a sense of unease, all coming to a chorus which sings of “a new kind of being alone/ when doubt is all you know.” If you didn’t know she was years into making music, you could be easily convinced she was picking up her guitar for the first time.

Toward the middle of The Fits she delves in minor key melodies and she begins to sound like she’s running away from her past, like a mysterious character who drops by a bar one night to play a song before never being seen again. “Behind My Hands” paints a picture of dreary hospital rooms where Tadros sounds like she’s recalling a haunting accident between states of consciousness before reverting to simply saying “I’m sorry” over and over. “The Cross Sticks” is the best of this run of tracks, relying on nothing more than a simple two-note guitar melody and some distant wispy vocals and drums, making it sound like an Ethan Jones-produced Laura Marling track. In it Tadros is clear with her lyrics, as she explains a relationship she walked away from. It’s easy to find sympathy and be engaged whereas on tracks like “Not A Drop” or “Uprooted” never quite hit the specific details. Earlier mentioned “Silence and The Truth” has plenty of clear imagery and wordplay, but it’s one of the guilty culprits where Tadros spills out a bit too much, making it sound like an excessive train-of-consciousness put onto paper. Lyrically “Bad Thing” simply falls because of it’s uninventive chorus where she admits she done “a bad thing,” despite the fact it’s clear she’s talking about adultery in some form, egregiously recalling a similar stumble from Kevin Barnes on his False Priest track “Famine Affair.” It’s brave that a singer will admit to their mistakes of this sort, but when that chorus comes round it sounds like she’s explaining it all to a child.

Her delivery also makes the intentions of the tracks a little hard to pinpoint. On “The Prophet” she sings “Jesus loves me, this I know/ for the Bible tells me so” but it’s hard to tell if she’s singing it with quiet reserve about her religion or just sardonically. There’s also a lot of mixed messages, especially during the last three tracks. While “Bad Thing” might sound like she’s seeking redemption of some sort after her revealing her religious morals, she then finishes of with “The Fits” which have her coyly asking someone if they want a lift home, hoping to have them “wrapped in [her] coat” by the end of the night. Sure, it’s not expressly sexual, and reads more like teen movie romanticism, but it does play havoc with the kind of message she’s trying to put forth.

“The Fits,” however, is one of the better tracks here. As much as she sounds like she keeping her eyes glued to the floor out of embarrassment, she plays the part well, and the track trickles out a little woodwind in the background, like flutters of butterflies in the stomach. While Tadros shouldn’t shy away from trying put her darker emotions and feelings into words, she should dedicate herself to them moreso. On the opening track Tadros sings of having “your mission statement written on the pavement for everyone to see” but The Fits doesn’t allow this to ring true for her. While it’s musically careful and lovely, with plenty of additional instrumentation in the right paces, it’s doesn’t always sound like it’s backing her up. On the better tracks it’ll help, like the way it waltzes along the middle section of “It All,” or the strings on “Behind My Hands” which do the best they can to help paint a melodramatic picture, but otherwise they don’t stick out in memorable or appropriate ways.

For all the time Tadros has spent travelling her brevity has to be admired. She might get a lot into some of these songs, and consequently it might mask what she’s actually singing about, but it’s easy to imagine her weaving more of the middling tales from the album, making it an elongated slog. Despite this, it’s easy to want to move onto the singular and more lasting moments from The Fits. After all, a well-travelled person might have plenty of stories to tell, but that’s doesn’t make all of them interesting or worth sharing.


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