PCP Presents Alice in Wonderland, Jr.

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After three albums of energetic riot pop, the Georgia quartet Tunabunny blew up their sound on 2014's Kingdom Territory by adding wonky electronics and warping things in a sometimes-difficult-to-listen-to fashion. It was a drastic departure that left the band's next move up in the air. Would they revert to their earlier sound or go further out? The answer was both. The hit the studio running and didn't come out until they had 18 songs done and ready to release. The title, PCP Presents Alice in Wonderland Jr, gives nothing away at first, but it does promise that the contents are bound to be confusing. The band do their best to live up to that initial impression on side one as they flit from one of their calmest, poppiest songs ("Incinerate") to a thudding electronic dirge ("It Could Be Something"), and jump from paint-peeling punk ("Noise Problems") to a ballad that sounds like some kind of junk shop Tom Waits as sung by an evil doll ("Seek Consequence"), and generally make hash of expectations. It's a strong opening that leaves one scratching their head in wonder, but also nodding along in agreement with every chance the band takes. Their skill at crafting unique sounds, laying down strong melodies, and delivering emotion-packed performances (especially from vocalists Brigette Herron and Mary Jane Hassell) means they can get away with everything they attempt. The rest of the album makes similar jumps between sounds, levels of fidelity, and emotional planes on its way to becoming an epic indie-pop/rock-whatever statement. It's also a collection of really fun, poppy songs ("Nevermind the Cobblestones," "The Rest of Us") that have weirdness seeping in through the floorboards, off-kilter, challenging experimental songs ("Dream Sugar," "Come Feed Your Dogs") that have sharp hooks poking through the static, and a handful of basement classics like the aforementioned "Incinerate," the garage rock tough/girl group sweet "The Way the World Works," and the epic-length "I Thought I Caught It (With You)" that ends the album in a riling churn of electric guitars, chanted vocals, and bashed cymbals. The record can be a little exhausting to listen to in one sitting, but listening to a side or two at a time will help let the songs and the music breathe and really sink in deeply. PCP Presents Alice in Wonderland Jr is the best kind of experimental pop, the kind where everything fits into place in exciting ways. Tunabunny make a case with this album that not only are they back and better than ever, but that they are one of the most interesting indie rock bands around in 2017.

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