Riding an attractive blend of winsome electronics and flecks of lush, orchestrated pop that isn't so much the Beach Boys as it is refracted through later acts like the High Llamas, Tape Tum are out to gently celebrate an approach that might, in the era of acts like Animal Collective and Grizzly Bear, seem all too familiar. There are certainly hints of that enveloping freneticism -- the opening song "Tell Me Something" covers everything from soft flowing keyboards to an explosive guitar buildup -- but there's a formal precision at the heart of the arrangements that suggests more direct lines of descent from Scandinavian indie pop. There are also plenty of echoes from other happily self-conscious experimenters over the years -- the similarly fragile and crunching Butterfly Child in particular, thanks to some extremely precise singing -- but the whole feels like a gentle gelling of sonics into something peacefully itself, no matter the swooping strings suddenly dropping into nothing, or the full-bodied drum or cymbal hits. The other crucial touch is that there is always at base a core melody and/or lyric that each arrangement drapes itself around, an anchor that lets the music take sudden left turns almost at will while never losing that base -- "Wheelchaired," with its calmly insistent chorus about promises meant to be kept, is a good example, with overlaid rhythms, careening tones, and sparkling chimes all swirling around the lead voice. (Admittedly, having a line in a song read "Cut the crap/I'm not waiting any longer" but spelling the actual title as "Crabp" seems too twee for its own good.) Sometimes things are a little too direct an homage -- "Yepepe" is an overt Brian Wilson nod that sounds jarring in its relative straightforwardness -- but on balance, Tape Tum produce an engaging listen on their debut album.
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AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett