By: Dennis Cook
If the Magic Numbers drank more electric Kool-Aid and engaged in all manner of free lovin' they might sound like London's Tunng, the Polyphonic Spree's acoustically tilted, blissfully lysergic English cousin. If the Marc Bolan of Tyrannosaurus Rex or Mike Heron and the Incredible String Band flip your skirt up, well, you've got a new favorite band, kids.
Capable of offhanded jewels like "We're catching bullets in our teeth/It's easy if you know how it's done," Tunng move with shambling determination, a rag & bone buffet for cool, old specters given a fresh jig to dance to. Good Arrows (Thrill Jockey) is full of finger picked acoustics, hammer dulcimers and boy-girl unison singing, as on "Take" and "Spoons," leans into Steely Span-Renaissance Faire territory that's swiftly mutated by peculiar squiggles messing the edges and keeping things from ever being a retro exercise.
"Bricks" is like some delirious Dukes of the Stratosphere outtake, while "Bullets" pays their dues to the Village Green Preservation Society. Thankfully, unlike many of their peers, when Tunng comes out of the backwoods they do just fine under coastal city lights, too. They're especially grand on "Soup," which uncoils like a broken music box playing "Tubular Bells" until it snaps and a biting metal riff sands the pretty surface over a breakbeat stutter that stirs the many unidentifiable chunks in this steaming pot.
The rhythm of "Arms" and a few others seems built of crackling campfires or happily short circuiting electronics. It's the semi steadiness of it that compels, a pulse as charming for its off beats as the ones that hit square on.
That Good Arrows glides out on a whispered conveyance like "Strings" and "Cans" seems right. There's a childlike sense of wonderment that infuses this album, though one muddled by blood and bone, reality creeping into the marrow of these wide-eyed musers and charming pluckers.
JamBase | Wild World
Go See Live Music!