No it’s not tune-yards. It’s tUnE-YaRdS, and no it’s not indie-rock, it’s some kind of Afro-pop-electronic-soul fusion. And yes, the music is wonderful and new and different and deserves all the the acclaim it is receiving.
tUnE-YaRdS is essentially a one-woman band, the work of Merrill Garbus, a young woman from New England who seems to have some peculiar and maybe just brilliant ideas about what music should sound like. As tUnE-YaRdS, Garbus is full of contradictions. She herself is white, but she leans heavily on the sounds of African drums and neo-soul sounds. She is young and fairly new, but her voice can be both abrasive and cracked, and then instantly sweet and melodious.
On WHOKILL, tUnE-YaRdS sounds like a band that is calling out the rest of the world from its dreamy sleep. This album is load and relentless, with an energy that is aggressive, angry and jubilant. In a sea of navel-gazing indie rock bands, tUnE-YaRdS turns their attention outwards and practically attacks its listeners where they sit.
WHOKILL is a wonderful listen and rewards fans for listening over and over. There are layers and subtexts here that have to be absorbed and chewed over. At the same time, there are danceable, ear-wormy hooks that dig into your brain immediately and won’t get out. It may be pre-mature to call tUnE-YaRdS the future of music, but if WHOKILL is a glimpse into the musical future, we are all in for a treat.