05 10

tUnE-yArDs I can feel you creep into my private life 4AD

We kind of know that personal privacy is a thing of the past when Alexa’s always listening and we’re logging in to hand out data and be told what we want. Lyrically, I can feel you creep into my private life explores some of these issues, also offering broad critiques of white feminism, the privatisation of natural resources and the impact of global warming on American soil.

Since 2009, Merrill Garbus has used her tUnE-yArDs moniker to grow a well-deserved reputation for chaotic indie pop and colourful live shows. Her 2009 debut Bird-Brains was inventively lo-fi, supposedly recorded using just a dictaphone, and each record after has been richer and more complex. In some ways, this fourth album follows the curve: the band-member count has doubled as long-term collaborator Nate Brenner becomes official, and I can feel you… reveals an unexpected, but possibly, misplaced ambition to fill the club floor.

Honesty sees Garbus’ heavily manipulated vocal tracks compete with each other over a thick kick drum and bassline, while on Coloniser the duo maintain a 4/4 beat as the song condemns the passive violence in white feminism’s attempts to hijack a narrative, with Garbus singing, peppy and faux-innocent, “I smell the blood in my voice”. The track builds towards a big drop that feels at odds with the song’s subject matter. Should I dance to this?

For an act as adventurous as tUnE-yArDs, it makes sense to experiment with digital manipulation and to tap into the political zeitgeist. But although I can feel you creep into my private life is a thematically ambitious record, tUnE-yArDs have come off sounding slightly out of touch.