tUnE-yArDs, 'w h o k i l l' (4AD)

w h o k i l l
Critical Mass
Release Date: April 19, 2011
Label: 4AD

by Marc Hogan

"I am not beautiful," Merrill Garbus hollers near the end of 2008's BiRd-BrAiNs, her no-fi pop-folk debut as tUnE-yArDs. Jury-rigged from ukulele, field recordings, and Garbus' own powerhouse, Afropop-influenced voice -- here a twee murmur, there a soulful honk -- the record reveled inits inadequacies. Adding bassist Nate Brenner, fancier mics, and augmented sonics, this sophomore album cleans up without sacrificing charm. The songs are more consistent, too, flashing a certain lyrical swagger, careening from terrific sex to celebratory violence to uncomfortable cultural realities.

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