tUnE-yArDs – Nikki Nack

(4AD)


TUNE-YARDS plays Massey Hall as part of NXNE on June 19. Rating: NNNN


For tUnE-yArDs’ third album, Oakland-based Merrill Garbus used a handful of new instruments to create her sonic fusion of Afropop, experimental folk and R&B: drum machines a bag of white rice whacked like a cowbell a leather-cushioned stool as a snare a Casio keyboard she received as a gift when she was nine and the boula, a small Haitian drum that Garbus learned to play while visiting the country last spring. But despite her new musical toys, her voice – as always – is the most impressive instrument.

Garbus’s vocals transform from a piercing, chanting choir to silky-smooth spoken word without missing a beat. On Real Thing, she crafts a one-woman call-and-response section, showing off her prowess and lung power. But her pipes stand out most on Wait For A Minute: interestingly enough, it’s when she sounds softest (surrounded by cool R&B-inspired synth lines) that she’s most commanding.

Top track: Wait For A Minute

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