“We like the idea of seeing how far we can take what we have” says the eponymous singer of San Francisco by-way-of New Zealand duo, Tamaryn, of their sophomore LP, Tender New Signs. You could very easily file the group’s shoegazey haze-pop next to the dozen other bands out there right now ripping off old Jesus and Mary Chain songs, but Tamaryn wear their influences better than most. Much in the same vein as recent albums from Beach House and Real Estate, Tamaryn hone in and put their stamp on the template outlined on their first LP, rather than tinker with something that never needing fixing.
Tender bleeds out slowly over nine tracks, never loosing focus or breaking its smoldering yet tranquil pace. Despite the fact that the band itself bears Tamaryn’s name, the duo’s male half, producer/multi-instrumentalist Rex John Shelverton, proves to be the album’s not-so-secret weapon. He steals the show on “Prizma” with a sugary riff that shines a hint of sunlight onto Tamaryn’s gloomy whisper of a voice. After repeated listens, you wish he had left more of his footprint on tracks like “Heavenly Bodies” or “No Exits”. These serve as a fine bridge between the albums two halves, but they lack the washed out bombast of “The Garden” or the beach-ready accessibility of “I’m Gone”.
Stadium-sized closer “Violet’s in a Pool” borders on magnificence as it lurches through a haze of feedback like a serial killer in search of a victim. Tamaryn asks, “Do you wonder what is coming ‘round the corner?” with enough dread in her tone to make you check under the bed for monsters. It’s one hell of a curtain call, and telling of the album as a whole. Tamaryn stay in their comfort zone on Tender, while doing their best to make us leave ours.
Essential Tracks: “The Garden,” “Violet’s in a Pool”