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The Daily Tar Heel

Music Review: Tune-Yards

TUnE-yArDs is a bizarre rock beauty headed by New England’s Merrill Garbus. With melodies that bounce and bubble and lyrics that ask questions of the nature, “What’s a boy to do if he’ll never be a gangsta,” tUnE-yArDs encourages its listeners to quit being so serious already and have a little fun.

Psychedelic saxophones rise in free jazz form and fall into captivating chaos on the album’s introductory tracks. They discombobulate, making the listener feel not quite right in the head.

Garbus renders her gender-bending vocals in a manner as discombobulating as tUnE-yArDs’ sax section. She wails on high notes that mimic falsetto in their ambiguity. The vocals are disorienting, yet persistently sultry and inviting.

The album spans a spectrum of genres — at times it’s electronica, at others it’s dub reggae and every once in a while it trails off into noise that’s difficult pin down. Comparisons to cLOUDDEAD’s deliciously disjointed rock or even Sublime’s reggae pop vocals would be warranted.

The up-tempo tracks, especially “Bizness” and “Gangsta,” outshine the slower selections, like “Riotriot” and “Wooly Wolly Gong.” It’s that reverberating rhythm and pulsing strangeness that make the album addicting.

No matter how wild the ride gets, it’s still worth every minute.

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