At first, Tapes 'n Tapes' much buzzed-about debut album, The Loon, plays like a CliffsNotes of indie rock, serving up the shouty, snotty sound of early Modest Mouse ("Just Drums"), Pavement's laid-back angles and historically astute lyrics ("The Iliad"), and the surreal strumminess of Come on Pilgrim-era Pixies ("Cowbell"). But just because Tapes 'n Tapes broadcast their influences so clearly throughout The Loon doesn't make it a bad album. Actually, the built-in familiarity of their sound is kind of comforting, particularly on pleasantly meandering pop songs like "Buckle" and "Jakov's Suite," and "Manitoba," a woozy ballad that recalls the Walkmen at their prettiest (and tipsiest). And, as The Loon unfolds, it shows Tapes 'n Tapes developing a style of their own -- or, at least, a more distinctive take on the indie bedrock on which their sound is built. The aptly named "Insistor" gallops out of the gate with more confidence and excitement than many of the album's other tracks. The abrupt tempo and dynamic shifts on this song and "In Houston," which pairs sparkly keyboards and almost jazzy verses with crunchy, sharp-edged choruses, show a flair for movement and drama that could become Tapes 'n Tapes' signature. "Omaha" is another standout, with subtly sophisticated drumming and lush, bittersweet vocal harmonies. However, The Loon is crafted like a true album; even if all the songs don't quite reach the level of its highlights, it all hangs together well, with appealing tossed-off tracks like "Crazy Eights" and the just-rough-enough-around-the-edges production adding to its personality. On the first few spins, it might be hard to understand what all the hype around The Loon is about, but it may be down to the fact that it's just a really solidly made album.
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AllMusic Review by Heather Phares