Tapes ‘N Tapes hit me hard when I discovered their 2004 LP The Loon. At the time, I was discovering a goldmine of great new bands (TV on the Radio, Saul Williams, LCD Soundsystem, Arcade Fire, Autolux), but Tapes ‘N Tapes’ debut album was stuck in my head for months, while all other tracks were deemed unworthy during that time. I listened on the way to work, on my computer, on the iPod, and even at family BBQs with family members giving me bewildered looks because of the awkward music selection. I can easily say that The Loon will certainly rank on my top 10 of the decade. How on Earth do you follow up a masterpiece? This is something I was worried about, as so many artists rarely reach the heights of their debut.
Upon first hearing the April release of their sophomore effort Walk It Off, I wasn’t sure what to think about the new songs. However, knowing that first impressions do not often last with challenging music (see Amnesiac), I continued to listen and wait for the payoff. It took a few weeks to warm up to the record, (partially delayed by my obsession with Animal Collective), but it finally hit me that Walk It Off is an another extraordinary collection of songs. The album’s first single, Hang ‘Em All picks up right where The Loon left off. The catchy guitar and offbeat lyrical delivery of frontman Josh Grier let the listener know they are in for something special. Grier mentioned in a recent interview that the lyrics on this record were written with a bit of ambiguity as to let the listener interpret their meaning.
The distorted guitars and offbeat rhythms may confuse listeners expecting a pop record, but Dave Fridmann (Flaming Lips, Elf Power, MGMT) has tied the loose edges into a digestible dish of cerebral indie rock. Additional standouts on the record include addicting indie anthem Conquest and the ultra-catchy and equally obnoxious George Michael. The album slows things down at times with the beautifully constructed Time of Songs and Say Back Something. It’s obvious that these guys are growing into their own as talented song writers. Most importantly, they don’t seem to be solely focused on the cash cow and continue to challenge their fans with new and exiting sounds. I really don’t get the comparisons to Pavement and the Pixies. Never being a big fan of either band, it seems to me that Tapes ‘N Tapes is taking indie rock into the next decade with an new and original sound. Whoever wants to come along better get on board before you miss the train.