Like the indie rock equivalent of Sergio Leone’s spaghetti Western films, Tamer Animals mixes dusty, dramatic songwriting with orchestral arrangements, creating a sound that’s difficult to trace to any single genre or location. It’s an Americana album, but only by the slimmest margin; few Americana albums are this cinematic, with horns and symphonic strings occupying as much space in the mix as the acoustic guitars. Violins sweep their way through “For 12” like waves, adding some ambience to a song that would otherwise be a minor-key folk ballad. Other songs have grander gestures that border on the Arcade Fire’s anthemic wallop, but Tamer Animals rarely sustains that sort of epic sound over an entire track. Instead, the album flits between the majestic and the miniature, rooting each song in Jesse Tabish’s guitar arpeggios and weary folk vocals while finding ample opportunity to bring in other instruments. Other musicians are brought in, too, including a violin quartet, and the result is an album that manages to sound both elegant and organic, like classical music made by people living off the land.
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AllMusic Review by Andrew Leahey