Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit

Tamaryn's third album lets the light in with dazzling results


Release date: 28 August 2015
Tamaryn Cranekiss
23 August 2015, 12:15 Written by Chris Todd
New Zealand-born, New York-based vocalist Tamaryn has certainly paid her gothic dues. Her two previous albums - 2010’s The Waves and Tender New Signs two years later - were awash with drowsy reverb and soporific atmospherics. Containing the likes of “Mild Confusion”, and “Heavenly Bodies”, her seductive coos - part Curve’s Toni Halliday, part Hope Sandoval - were the perfect foil to Rex Shelverton’s vivid shoegaze guitar fuzz. Both records were masterclasses in dark wave.

Shelverton is no longer part of the recording set up, and his absence is immediately apparent, but as Mark E Smith said about The Fall: “If it’s me and your nan on bongos, it’s The Fall”. It's the same for Tamaryn, but the murk of previous material is cast aside in favour of dreamy, heartbreak pop. Collaborating with Shaun Durkan of Weekend and Ariel Pink producer George Albretch, Cranekiss is the album Tamaryn says she's been leading up to since the beginning of her recording career, and although the air of solemnity still apparent, here we have the singer at her most effervescent and direct.

The opening, title track sets the intention out immediately; her soaring vocals yearning you to "Take what you want / Get what you want" over School Of Seven Bells-style dance beats and a dash of wailing Kevin Shields-esque guitar sounds is about as pop as things here can get.

The vibrancy of “Hands All Over Me” is even more explicit. Shimmering synth stabs and a Girogio Moroder-esque arpeggio accompany Gary Numan influenced aural textures in a track which resembles the results of a sadly non-existent collaboration between forgotten ‘80’s popstar Martika and Alan Moulder on production, ending with a closing two minutes of Nine Inch Nails' electronic glitch.

The likes of "Last" and “Collection” hark back to the Tamaryn sounds of old, but with new found clarity. Where her forays into pop were tentative in the past, these tracks scream to take them in their arms - the former’s humongous chorus and soaring vocal work results in the kind of bombast that would have Florence Welch saying "bit much". The six minutes of "Softcore" prove to be a highlight, the urgent new wave beats and The Cure's basslines work its way into a dark piece of propulsive techno with shrill shoegaze guitars and reverbed drama. It comes as no surprise that this is a collaboration with Mexican Summer label mates Ashrae Fax, as this could easily have been a track Never Really Been Into It, arguably 2014’s finest indie record.

The Cranekiss climax comes in the shape of the “Sugar Fix”’s wanton euphoria. Insistent acoustic guitars and New Order circa 1982 basslines accompany a robust electronic beat work their way towards an idyllic chorus of unbelievable prettiness, this is Tamaryn reimagined as the Pet Shop Boys featuring Robyn Guthrie. With eyes squinting against the summer sun, it's a delectable piece of pop you’ll keep heading back to for more.

Although hardly her 'Bob Dylan goes electric' moment, Cranekiss shows the logical progression of an artist who quite rightly acknowledges that she’d gone as far as she could with the aloof murkiness of her first two albums. By taking a sharp turn into the light, the shades of grey of her older material have been splattered by blasts of glorious technicolour, a move resulting in her best album to date.

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