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[Suicide Squeeze; 2011]

By ; November 3, 2011 

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

Considering Indiana group Tammar have a generous five members to them, they somehow manage to keep their overall sound relatively restrained. That’s not to say they can’t unleash a worthy barrage of noise in the form of crashing drums and guitars – because they definitely can, as evidenced by tracks like “Deep Witness” or “Heavy Tonight” from their debut album Visits. It’s just that when listening to Visits they often sound like they’re keeping things simple and/or casual, not complicating their music with slew upon slew of additional instrument.

And it makes for refreshing listening at the best of times. Aforementioned opening track “Heavy Tonight” is a good example as it goes from an opening burst of drums to chugging guitars to a lazy droning final section. It doesn’t sound much,with an admittedly lacklustre description like that, but the real energy in the song comes from the way everything compresses together to create a tight and almost compacted sound. “Summer Fun” is perhaps a better example as guitars intertwine in a way that makes the melody sound both complex and breezy. And hey, there’s a healthy dose of handclapping too.

With its upbeat tones “Summer Fun” will likely be the first thing to get stuck in a listener’s head, but the most rewarding songs are those with a sharper edge. And this comes mainly from frontman Dave Walter who can put an effective snarl into his voice when the moment takes him. Though pretty much every lyric he sings is impenetrable, his presence is still a much-needed weight for the songs here. Recalling a snider version of The Big Pink’s vocalist Robbie Furze, his range is admirable, especially when he lets his voice soar on album highlight “Deep Witness.” The track’s gradual build once again has the band working almost seamlessly together to create a strange sort of tension between choruses that seems to loosen the grip of the song rather than tighten it, all while keeping you enclosed in the song’s parameters.

The thread that seems to hold the album together though is an almost pregnant drone that immediately recalls the opening hum of “Twenty Eight” by Why?. It’s cool when you listen out for it and realise how much it crops up both in between songs and in the middle of others, but the sound also wears thin after a while (and also makes me wonder why I haven’t listened to Alopecia in so long). Visits also suffers from being a little front heavy, offering the majority of its best and most memorable moments in the first half. Tracks like “Arrows Underwater” and “Yung Jun” do stick to the formula that the rest of the songs have, but don’t quite hit the same highs, making for a second half that can drag at the worst of times. Closing track “Frost Meter” thankfully lifts things up again with a slow and steady build, with melodies that sound like the band are trying something a little different. And even though that familiar drone does once again come into play on the last track, it sounds different, like it’s bloated and has worn itself out. And in the last thirty seconds of “Frost Meter,” once the drone has disappeared, the band’s other melodies seem to unravel like their life force has been taken away. It makes you wonder that if it was really that one prolonged tone that was keeping the band together throughout the album’s runtime. Who knows, but it’ll be interesting to see what else Tammar can shoot life into.


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