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Tullycraft: Unshakably Fun

Posted by May 4th, 2005 No Comments »

Album Review
Tullycraft – Disenchanted Hearts Unite
By Eric “Skip” Tognetti

Bup bup bup bah dada dada
Bum ba-dum ba-dum-ba dada dada
Bah-dup bah-dup bada dada
Bah-dum bah-dumba dada dada

This might be the only thing you take with you after listening to Tullycraft’s latest album, Disenchanted Hearts Unite. And if that’s the case, who can blame you? It’s catchy stuff.

Like all Tullycraft albums, Disenchanted is loaded with the poppiest hooks in indie music it’s stuff you find yourself singing in the shower and digging out of your collection on the first bright, warm day in March.

Bum ba-dum ba-dum-ba dada dada
Bah-dup bah-dup bada dada
Bah-dum bah-dumba dada dada

You don’t even need to know the words. Just crank your windows down, turn it up, and try to resist bopping your head and singing along.

But listen carefully to the new album, their fourth full-length, and what you’ll hear is a grown-up version of the band that brought us underground toe-tapping hits like “Pop Songs Your New Boyfriend’s Too Stupid to Know About,” “Twee,” and “8 Great Ways.” Singer/songwriter/bassist Sean Tollefson is growing up, and his songs are growing up with him.

For instance, in the early days, a lost love was taunted with the jaded:

Sure he buys you records, if you like them by U2.
But if you want the Pastels, baby, here’s what you should do:
Get on your bike and take a hike and meet me at our spot,
Just you and me–and Halo Benders (Hey, that’s pretty hot!)–and we’ll sing
Pop songs your new boyfriend’s too stupid to know about

On the new album, the grown-up Tollefson reminisces in “Polaroids from Mars.”

There was that night on the phone
when you said “Let’s kill the Mod Revival,”
to some applause
and then you paused
almost as if to say “I love you,”
but the words, they failed,
and the frigate sailed
and in another couple of years
we woke up next to different people
and the distance found us here

Gone is the bitter but hopeful boy from “Pop Songs.” He’s been replaced by a matured and reflective (perhaps reluctantly so) Tollefson.

Musically, everything’s matured as well. The jangly guitars and infectious pop aesthetic are still there (of course, or it wouldn’t be Tullycraft), but after a few albums worth of time in the studio, the boys – Tollefson, Chris Munford (guitars, keyboards), and Jeff Fell (drums) – have learned how to develop a song. You can hear them practicing at this on their second album, City of Subarus, where they first began to add layers of keyboards, effects, and distorted guitar tracks. On that album, their success was hit or miss. On Disenchanted, however, they’ve learned how to build a well-layered song without distracting from the pop simplicity that is essential to their sound.

That simplicity is Tullycraft’s trick. It’s like going to a Rothko exhibit where your uninitiated friend stares at the blocks of color and proclaims, “Hell, I could do that.” That’s Tullycraft. A few simple chords, a few simple words – anyone can do that, right? Well, no, actually.

There are the trademark catchy tunes like the album opener “Stowaway” and maybe their stickiest song ever, “Rumble with the Gang Debs.” The album ends with “Secretly Minnesotan,” another gem which features one of Tollefson’s trademarks–songs about music, in which he confesses, “Ricky says that my band’s just a Sebadoh rip-off/and I can’t say I disagree.” But buried in the middle is the best song on the album, the driving and rocking (yes, rocking) “Polaroids from Mars,” which showcases the all grown-up Tullycraft at its finest.

In the end this is still a Tullycraft album: clever, intelligent, and absolutely packed with obscure indie rock references (Oklahoma Scramble wins the obscurity award here btw).

And, grown up or not, Disenchanted Hearts Unite is the one thing that a Tullycraft album should be: unshakably fun. – (8.5/10)


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