Monday, November 12, 2012

Total Entertainment - Tusks

Total Entertainment

Static Clang Records.

SCQ Rating: 75%

Hold your horses, Total Entertainment; the smeared distortion and lethargic rhythm locked between bass and drums on “Little Pirouettes” don’t carry any of the flash-bang satisfaction promised in such a title. Instead, Tusks’ opening track teases a crescendo that never arrives; its steady build of backing vocals and drum-fills tapering back into ether. Once listeners look closely at the cover-art’s vacant and weathered venue, however, they’ll recognize Tusks are going about building a name for themselves the old-fashioned way: employing original songwriting ideas and deft musicianship over ear-turning trendiness.

Perhaps this quartet’s willingness to skirt the limelight in favour of an appreciative audience explains how Total Entertainment recollects some of rock’s most enduring talents: Wilco, Steely Dan, The Eagles and unmistakably something uniquely their own. Samir Khan’s velvety vocals compliment the band’s expert playing, fitting seamlessly into compositions that typically breathe with two or three fully formed objectives. “New To Old Money” provides a prime example of how idyllically Khan’s multi-tracked harmonies magnify Tusks’ knack for melody, whereas meatier tracks like organ-punctuated “Wake Them Up” and the angular “Syllables” emphasize electric doses of bar-band aplomb.

Even when wielding bombast, Tusks don’t aim for the jugular. These compositions prefer to oscillate a mood and it’s their instrumentation – how it patiently evolves and morphs – that opens Total Entertainment to multiple requisite listens. There’s a lot of delicacy to these arrangements and, when focused upon for closing track “To See It Through”, it leaves a subtle but thrilling pause in its wake. A very promising full-length debut.

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