Album Reviews

tUnE-yArDs – Nikki Nack – Album Review


This was probably the album I was most looking forward to this year. It was announced just before Christmas, and out of all the new releases, this was the one I wanted to hear. No pressure Merrill!

It’s a dangerous position to be in, and the weight of expectation can often damage your view of something. In a worst case scenario, think back to Star Wars Episode One: The Phantom Menace. Ok, maybe that’s a bad comparison, as it was an awful movie, but could it have ever lived up to the many years wait? Expectation is a dangerous thing, and you’re always better off coming to something with ‘fresh’ ears, and treating it like a distinct work, but it’s difficult to do that if what went before was special.

Nikki Nack is the third full-length release by Merrill Garbus, after the 2011 Whokill which was one of the albums of the year. There is a definite new sound on this album. While it is not a complete departure from what has gone before, there is a step towards pop sensibilities on the singles ‘Water Fountain’ and ‘Wait for a Minute’. That’s not to say it’s a pop album, there’s as much going on as there was on her previous releases. There is invention and style, and that wonderfully wide ranging voice that alters from delicate to rasping in the blink of an eye. The percussion sound really demands attention, as it is pieced together from a variety of samples and oddities on many tracks. There are barrells, wood, glass, hand claps and a whole world of sampled drums.

The worst you could say about this new release is that it’s more accessible than what went before it, but it’s not the worst complaint. I can’t see myself listening to much else over the next while, as I explore the complex arrangements of this new gem. Merill, thanks for not being the Phantom Menace.

Nikki Nack is released on 4AD records on May 5th.

No. – Title – Length
1. “Find a New Way” 3:28
2. “Water Fountain” 3:03
3. “Time of Dark” 4:33
4. “Real Thing” 3:22
5. “Look Around” 4:26
6. “Hey Life” 3:37
7. “Sink-O” 3:17
8. “Why Do We Dine on the Tots?” 1:28
9. “Stop That Man” 3:33
10. “Wait for a Minute” 3:54
11. “Left Behind” 4:31
12. “Rocking Chair” 2:03
13. “Manchild” 3:09
Total length: 42:24

You can listen to Nikki Nack here.

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