Posted on May 24th, 2012 (11:05 am) by Devan Proctor

The best part about lyrics is their accompanying instrumentals – if you find yourself dismayed or confused by the words, hopefully you can enjoy the background sounds and catchy rhythms. If your cup is half full, allow yourself to enjoy the superb electronic quality of TALWST’s album, Alien Tentacle Sex. While the lyrics are, um, pointedly implicated, the music itself is vibrant and effectively compiled. The generic R&B themes ring rather evidently, but become charming in the colors of TALWST’s clear vocals and sweet rhythms. While undesirable aspects of the album are rather apparent, its creative composition is certainly worth a listen.

Released on May 22nd, Alien Tentacle Sex is the first album behind the artist called TALWST (supposedly pronounced “Tall Waist”). Hailing from Toronto, TALWST has put out three previous albums under the name of Curtis Santiago and the genre of “dance rock.” He is no stranger to the music scene, and is obviously ready to reach new horizons under his new persona. All signs point to progression and excitement as TALWST enthusiastically undergoes his transformation.

TALWST certainly claims a fantastic voice and range, with talents varying from mild tenor, to hyped falsetto, to acute rapping. Throughout the album he displays a familiar tone gushing with potential influences, and becomes pleasing to the ears. In “I’d Die,” he layers his voice to create a harmony of background singers, which are promptly spliced and arranged in the style of today’s electronic music. His voice silkily seeps in, thoroughly fulfilling modern R&B in an Usher-like fashion. While the lyrics aren’t often ideal, the timbre of his voice stands out enough to attract all the attention. In “Woman,” TALWST croons a very high and passionate falsetto, while in “Mercy Me,” listeners may detect a hint of Curtis Mayfield’s soulful sound. In “Colors,” TALWST takes on an indie tone, both in his voice and instrumental mood. Clearly, he boasts a formidable range in several categories to be a definite highlight of Alien Tentacle Sex.

On the flip side, the lyrics are very distracting in their content when conveyed through rapping. For a rapper, TALWST is talented, inflecting solidly and efficiently to emphasize the beat and the flow. However, since rap relies on grasp of rhythm and the lyrics themselves, word choice and subject are extraordinarily important. His lyrics often represent the offensive crap-rap of today – not only does almost every song revolve around the subjects of drugs, sex, and clubbing, but its constant referrals to women as bitches and hoes is tired, useless, and wholly takes away from the best parts of the music. One hardly needs to mention the word “fuck” loses its phonetic and dramatic impact when repeated in every other verse. Throwing out the verbal need for “pussy” makes listeners feel as if this music could be satirizing generic rap in the wrong way. We had hoped “Peace Tonight” would be devoid of the lyrical circus – TALWST claims to avoid money, ice, weed, coke, pussy, dick, and, oh, also nuclear bombs. So yeah, TALWST shows he is ready to accept some peace and quiet, so long as that pussy and those nuclear bombs stop knocking on his door.

Other than that distracting downfall, the electronic aspects are quite delicious and varied in content. TALWST utilizes several excellent mechanisms to meld and shape his personal sound, and his chosen beats beckon dancers to get down. Some of the best rhythms occur in "Colors" - he places ecstatic filler ticks in between the patient down beats. “I’d Die” is made up of percussive pitches. Filtering adds edge to the background singing, while a half-human, half-synth sound hovers over the mix. TALWST does more than simply tweaking the music, as he is a definite fan of the melancholy and/or smooth piano melodies (“Lonely Guy,” “Peace Tonight”). He even stands on the edge of dubstep in “No Stones.” With vox pedals, filters, and background drones, TALWST covers the favorable aspects in today’s electronic music.

If you can get past the subjective sludge of Alien Tentacle Sex, good for you. The musical content is absolutely worth the listen, especially as it comes from a new artistic persona. While TALWST will certainly continue to raise the bar with his tonal skills, hopefully he will become more in touch with his poetic side before his next album.

Track List:
1. I'd Die
2. Woman
3. Lonely Guy
4. Peace Tonight
5. Colors
6. Mercy Me
7. No Stones

Alien Tentacle Sex, by TALWST
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

65 / 100
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