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29 September 2015

WTSH Album Review: Cranekiss by Tamaryn || Review by Ellie Sleeper.

WTSH Reviews Tamaryn’s Cranekiss
Review by: Ellie Sleeper

Growth. Change. Experimentation. For ethereal projects of a certain age, it seems a sort of musical adolescence is underway. For Tamaryn, this most definitely holds true. As if overnight, she has reinvented herself, her band, and her entire musical palette. The results could not be any more breathtaking.

At first rumble of the unexpected yet largely amicable departure of longtime collaborator, Rex Shelverton, many fans expressed dismay and concern. However, Tamaryn handled so many of these questions and worries expertly, regularly reassuring listeners and teasing exciting details such as the participation of Weekend’s Shaun Durkan and producer/multi-instrumentalist, Jorge Albrecht. She promised not to disappoint; she kept her word most flawlessly. Cranekiss explores new, expansive, stratospheric heights for Tamaryn and company.

Towering, beaming synthesizers dominate the album, and Durkan’s characteristic guitar work plays a suitable foil to vocals that can shift from a low, gothy whisper to an exuberant falsetto. The duality is intriguing, and it is best exemplified on the standout single, “Last”. “Last” could easily be a contender for the strongest song of Tamaryn’s career and may long be her defining moment; there are simply that many good things happening within and so many subtle moments that blend so well. “Last” and the other singles also illustrate that Tamaryn can and should seriously consider wholly reinventing herself as an ethereal pop artist for an extended period.

Few, if any, artists can claim to have successfully made the jump from underground aesthetics to pop accessibility with their credibility intact, but Tamaryn and her new partners have not only come out unsullied, they have come out more lustrous than ever before. It is rare, almost unfathomable, to imagine an urge to tell an artist, “Run! Grow! Change! You’ve got this!” However, Cranekiss deserves just this sort of praise in its brightest moments.

Rather, it is the vestiges of what came before for Tamaryn and for Durkan’s Weekend that weigh the album down. The more heavily goth-inflected numbers, such as “Keep Calling” and “Intruder” are written beautifully and are good songs, but they pale in comparison to the singles as examples of a sound that could have easily been left behind in light of the exciting new territory both musicians are obviously perfectly equipped to explore and conquer.

The darker numbers also may suffer from Albrecht’s production. Compared to the singles, these numbers sound incomplete, or possibly compressed to a different extent than that exhibited on the songs tackled by Chris Coady; there is a noticeable drop in clarity and volume roughly halfway through the album. On vinyl, this is more jarring after one has flipped to Side B.

This potential oversight, or at least incongruence, is unfortunate and frustrating, as the material is glaringly solid yet unfairly executed, not shining to the extent it truly could. The album ends in this unfortunate murk; “Intruder” trails off with several layers suggesting a hook or compelling melody, but not in the sort of harmonious interplay they could have found. The start of the album calls for a euphoric finish which never comes.

A complete listen to the album can be staggering because of this disparity. Make no mistake, Cranekiss and the reinvention of Tamaryn as a project both drip with promise and sheer skill, but both are dogged by the same flaw all of Tamaryn’s LPs have suffered: jaw-dropping starts followed by limping closes. Fortunately, this is an easy fix. With future scrutiny on pacing, polish, and the risks of more languid numbers, Tamaryn will be utterly unstoppable. Fans would be wise to look forward to this and to purchase Cranekiss for the many things it does execute perfectly. If you enjoyed what you’d heard before, there is only more to appreciate now. 

Standouts – “Last”, “Sugar Fix”, and “Hands All Over Me”

Buy It Because – Because Tamaryn is on an exhilarating journey of rediscovery and because she’s onto something stellar. 

Goes Great With:
IO Echo
Black Marble
The Daysleepers

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