Listening to Tunng’s Songs You Make At Night is hearing in color.
Symbolizing a joyful reunion between founders Mike Lindsay and Sam Genders, the band’s fifth album is an extrasensory trip that confuses and delights the mind in equal measure. Lindsay’s listless singing style paired with peppy back-beats gives a push-and pull feel to the tracks, helping to liven the album’s otherwise hollow feel and staying true to the sound Tunng has been cultivating for the past fifteen years.
Take the album’s second track ABOP. Right at the song’s start, a woman’s voice can be heard proclaiming, “I felt so marvelous” and listeners will quickly share that sentiment. An extremely colorful song, ABOP has not unwelcome jazzy beats thrown in for good measure, a nice twist for a band who’s known for being forerunners in the “folktronica” genre. It’s absolutely delightful, with harmonizing male and female vocals floating above breathy electronics. The song also features the sounds of a classical piano, a contradictory note that peaks interest and somehow adds to the song’s lethargic, dreamlike vibe.
Sleepwalking follows swiftly after, although the sound the song provides leaves its title as a bit of a misnomer. Members’ voices come sing loudly in an almost abrasive manner. There’s a rather hectic undercurrent to the song, with a zipping dub and a stream of guitar notes that come in fast and furious. The chorus “And you are vibrating”could very well be referencing the song itself. It’s a feeling that’s a direct contradiction to the next track, Crow, which is more acoustic than electronics, giving one the impression of driving through a back country as opposed to the late-night listening ABOP inspires.
Listening to Songs You Make At Night straight through, however, gives one a strong impression of Déjà vu. Most of the eleven tracks start to sound a bit redundant, with lyrics that barely make an impact and instrumental that bleeds into each other. The background noise also has a habit of overpowering much of the band’s vocals, forcing listeners to strain their hearing in order to understand just what Lindsay and company are trying to say.
The track Flatland is one glaring example of this. For a whole four minutes, the Tunng crew repeats various activities done in the flatland, such as “drinking in a flatland/walking in a flatland” over and over again. If the listener’s intentions were to get a great night’s sleep, then Flatlands is the song for them. What’s worse is that this song lingers in the middle of the album, fizzling out whatever holding power tracks like ABOP bring at the album’s start.
Even songs like Dark Heart, another jazzy tune, feels more like recycled parts. There are the deep strums in the background, the synth pops, and there’s even the soulless whistling effects in the background; all sounds that were previously used, all adding to the album’s overall repetitiveness.
All in all, Songs You Make At Night is still an enjoyable listen. Tunng is a band firmly grounded in their sound, something longtime fans will enjoy. Pop it on during cooler nights with a bottle of wine nearby; it’ll be simply marvelous.
“Songs You Make At Night” is out now via Full Time Hobby Publishing / Bucks Music Group / Domino Publishing