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Hannah

CD of The Week

Week of 3/29/21

    Tune-Yards - sketchy. (4AD)

    Tune-Yards' 2018 album i can feel you creep into my private life marked something of a sea change for the duo. In addition to pushing their sound into the sleeker, more streamlined textures of modern electronic pop, it also found Merrill Garbus going out of her way to examine her own choices and complicity in the oppressive society and systems that she spent so much of her previous output calling out. The need for that kind of self-reflection from people of privilege has of course grown ever so exponentially in the subsequent years, and that isn't lost on Garbus or bandmate Nate Brenner. Their new album sketchy finds them continuing the good fight to pay their deeper self-awareness forward, applying its predecessor's musical and lyrical precision to the framework of their primal protest music roots.

    The result is a rousing collection of righteous anger that you can dance to. Opener "nowhere, man" comes in hot and hard, its riffs and percussion matching the palpable rage Garbus feels towards men who try to legislate women's bodies in lyrics like "if you cannot hear a woman, then how can you write her song?" How, indeed. Lest anyone think she'd keep her sights set on one target, Garbus pivots her frustration immediately after with "make it right," turning toward would-be allies who lean into performative activism as a way to satisfy their own guilt rather than make an effort to truly educate themselves on issues that don't affect them. As if the need to listen and let others lead isn't conveyed clearly enough with songs like this, Garbus even literally sequences a moment of silence into the album's midway point to try and force a moment of introspection. Here's hoping it works.

    sketchy is satisfying musically as well. While not as exhilaratingly clubby as last time, the songs here showcase the duo's new production prowess and prove that no amount of sonic evolution can dull their dedication to their craft, or their myriad of causes, all of which remain as relevant as ever, for better and for worse. Thankfully, the songs used to convey them remain riveting, too.

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    Review by Rob Huff

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