Tape Tum - The Night We Called it a Day

The press materials for Tape Tum’s debut album describe them as “for fans of The Beach Boys, Grizzly Bear and Sparklehorse.” Those are all certainly worthy comparison points, but they’re also the same names you’ll find checked in press releases for about 70% of indie bands working today. So what does this pair of Belgian brothers bring to the table that sets them apart from the rest of the rabble? Well, not a whole lot, frankly, but that doesn’t hurt The Night We Called it a Day as much as you might think.

“Tell me something I already know,” goes the opening refrain, simultaneously summing up both the album’s main strength and weakness. Tape Tum may not be treading much new ground, but their sound has a comforting familiarity, like re-watching a pretty good movie when it comes around on cable. There are certainly worse fates than being the My Cousin Vinny of post-Radiohead indie rock.

“Tell Me Something” is awash in acoustic strumming, walls-of-ambient-sound and falsetto harmonies, backed with a steady rhythm that makes the whole thing deceptively toe-tappable. “Zimmer” opens with a sweet string section and fades into a tuneful marriage of guitar and electronica that brings to mind Beach House’s Devotion. The energetic instrumental “Marlene” futzes around a while with static and feedback before settling into a surprisingly infectious groove that contains some echoes of ‘80s Brit-pop.

That stated Beach Boys influence manifests itself most obviously on “Yepepe,” a solid, horn-laced evocation of Van Dyke Parks production and whispery Brian Wilson vocals with some surreal imagery stirred in (“Wash my eyes with glue / So they’ll stick with you”). “Safety” suggests some of the more introspective Flaming Lips material, with its gentle melody and high-minded lyrics. The experimental, borderline New Age “Spiders” closes things out with a cinematic sweep of spacey sounds and spooky murmurings.

Sure, this isn’t the most substantial LP you’re going to find, but so what? As their references suggest, Tape Tum falls on the airy, ethereal side of the indie rock spectrum. Unless you’re a real aficionado of the genre, many of their tracks melt easily into the background, occasionally reasserting themselves pleasantly but unobtrusively. These guys know their strengths and don’t try to push too far beyond their comfort zone. Sometimes you just go with what works, and most of The Night We Called it a Day does.

Recommended Tracks: “Marlene,” “Yepepe,” “Tell Me Something,”

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