Merrill Garbus has always been oddball of sorts. As the leader and main face of the New England-based tUnE-yArDs, along with her musical partner, bassist Nate Brenner create music that is hard to categorize and describe. Equal parts world-beat and afro-pop, Garbus uses drum loops as the main baseline for her music. She then layers in Brenner’s bass, sax horns, hints of ukelele and even more drumming into the mix. The end result is something that is just as much tribal noise as music. But the syncopation works. As Garbus adds in her various yodels and chants, the whole thing coalesces into something cathartic and free. That is how the music of tUnE-yArDs is. It taps into our most primal emotions and it feels joyous.
Despite (or because of) the idea that something as oddball as tUnE-yArDs would capture an audience, it wonderfully did. Her sophomore record Whokill ranked the highest in the highly regarded Pazz and Jop poll in 2011. Great expectations are now placed for tUnE-yArDs‘ upcoming third record Nikki Nack.
Nikki Nack takes its cues from its predecessors but it is also more complex. While Whokill and first record Bird-Brains are bare-bones, Nikki Nack adds small layers of R&B smoothness to the mix. The baseline is still the drum loops and the saxophone. But the songs of Nikki Nack definitely have a sense of more sophistication. More nuanced and all the more interesting for it.
Watch the video for first single Water Fountain embedded below.
tUnE-yArDs – Nikki Nack comes out 5/6 via 4AD (order here)