Over the past few weeks, Merrill Garbus (aka tUnE-yArDs, from here unstylized because I don't have that kind of time) released the two lead singles from her upcoming record, Nikki Nack (out May 5). Having revisited their earlier releases while on a serious tune-yards kick, I noticed the striking leaps in sonic clarity that attend each consecutive album. Bird-Brains plays like it was recorded inside a soup can: Garbus's dissonant melodies and soul-charged rhythm section crackle out of the speakers and combat audio equalizers w/ a treble-loaded uzi. W H O K I L L was a vast improvement in both production and songsmithing, the whole band alternately bursting w/ pyrotechnic hedonism and sizzling with mature restraint. And so it might seem obvious that "Water Fountain" & "Wait for a Minute" should reside at the logical endpoint of Garbus's maturity, a perfect synthesis of experimentation and meticulous recording: The band employed Malay (Frank Ocean, Alicia Keys) & John Hill (Rihanna, Shakira) to head Nikki Nack's production team. And while they obviously polished the album to a high shine, Malay & Hill also appear to have flatlined the erratic dynamics that made tune-yard's one of the most interesting bands in recent memory. Both tracks share similar, related flaws--a surprising departure from the ragged looseness that humanized Garbus's otherworldly melodies, as well as an almost complete lack of organic instrumentation. The songs themselves are solid compositions, though; they just sound scrubbed to sterility on the DAW.
"Wait for a Minute"