Written by bob_vinyl
We Brave Bee Stings and All by Thao With The Get Down Stay Down (MySpace) begins and ends like it may be a simple twee pop album. Both “Beat” and “We Go” have a thin, light pop sound that could be mistaken for a novelty. What happens between those two songs, however, is anything but. There is no doubt that a twee influence runs through the album, but there is so much more.
Unlike cutesy twee songs, there is real pop substance here. Thao’s voice can be sultry and subtly brooding, which gives the music real substance beneath its pop sheen. The hint of darkness under the bright, shiny surface is the album’s real texture and color.
The Get Down Stay Down is an inconspicuously good band. They run from shades of twee to folk to jazz to reggae to calypso to vaudeville to, most importantly, soul, but all with an understated, low-key performance that makes them both essential and nearly transparent.
The instrumentation is thin and the rhythms sparse with only light percussion and a bass line that lives quietly in the background. Even when horns get into the mix, they’re almost unnoticeable, yet their absence would significantly change the song.
“Bag of Hammers” is immediately memorable, yet on a second listen, just about every song had found its way into my subconscious. That’s the sign of really good pop music.
This review was originally posted February 8, 2008 on the old version of FensePost. Above image by Fense from Bumbershoot 2008.
Thao: Bag Of Hammers [mp3]
[audio:0904_thao_-_bag_of_hammers.mp3|titles=Bag Of Hammers|artists=Thao]
Kill Rock Stars [CD, 2008]
1. Beat [Health, Life And Fire]
2. Bag Of Hammers
3. Big Kid Table
4. Swimming Pools
6. Feet Asleep
7. Yes, So On And So On
8. Fear And Convenience
11. We Go