Portland’s Tu Fawning conjure a mystic world. They lurk in minor chords, then spring out, hooting from behind murky bass lines. For much of its short duration, their intriguing sophomore album A Monument sounds like a circus band marching on Mordor, cavorting and pirouetting through the valleys, cavernous drums carving mountains of shadow for the brooding guitars to riff under.
Loud, LOUD percussion unifies the album. Tracks veer from the emotive, skewiff ballad Skin & Bone- part Animal Collective, part Elton John set closer- to the euphoric Southern rock bombast of Wager, but they all rotate around thuds, clicks and clatters made giant with abyss echo. Lead vocalist Corrina Repp has a style compatible to Florence Welch- similarly indebted to Kate Bush’s eccentricities and brim full of gothic flourishes- but the comparison ends there. Whilst Florence’s much noted ‘bonkersness’ comes neatly compressed, and digitally sparkling, Tu Fawning serve up a grimier sound, with the album recorded on analogue tape and not averse to the occasional sprawl. Synths and samples creak and groan, more knackered old timer than state of the art, and you can almost smell the dust burning off the valves.
There has been suggestions that the band awkwardly evade pigeon holes- it seems more the case that they’ve created their own pigeon hole, and current genre titles just don’t do them justice. A Monument doesn’t lurch between styles- it has its own dark beating heart to which it remains true. On this showing Tu Fawning deserve to be feted alongside innovators such as Bad Seeds and Liars, bands who take the haggard old clothes of rock n roll and restitch them into something strange, wonderful and new. Well worth your time.
Out on City Slang in May