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Posted on October 20th, 2013 (9:45 am) by Michael Mangarella

Behold the happy hamster, scurrying in his enclosure, nibbling on kibble, forming little nests, running aimlessly (like us) in his little wheel. He feels our presence, flashing his dainty eyes through the glass that separates us. Judging upon the innocence of his look, we think nothing of reaching in and stealing a snuggle. Six gauze pads, a half bottle of peroxide and four oddly configured bandages later, we discover that the little “darling” is the book best not judged by its cover.

Tullycraft, the Seattle-based pop rock band has been putting out sweet sounding, exuberant pop music since their debut, 1996’s Old Traditions, New Standards, labeled them as forerunners in the U.S. pop twee movement. Such an irreverent or laudatory term, depending on one’s personal gag-factor, would force some indie bands to subvert their sound, in an indie-like attempt to avoid being typecast. Tullycraft on the other hand plowed ahead, eschewing the contrived labels of others and over the next ten years or so released six albums of pop bliss and a large handful of singles. This, coupled with an extensive touring schedule, bore them out to audiences and critics alike to be, pure and simple, an excellent rock and roll band, all sub-genre pet names aside. After their excellent 2007 release, Every Scene Needs a Center, and a touring schedule that ran through 2009, the band went on a hiatus which has lasted until 2013’s, Lost in Light Rotation. For one to assume this to be another formulaic exercise in Tullycraft’s song craftsmanship, I suggest, keeping your perceptions as with your hands toward the “happy” hamster, to yourself.

“Agincourt” ends the six year drought with a deluge of post-punk guitars, Sean Tollefson’s smirky vocals and acidic lyrics, a reminder of what the pop world has been missing. A relentless beat and trumpet blare propels a wake-up-the-dead sensibility that continues throughout this absolutely brilliant album. The head-bopping pop that is “Queenie Co.” cruises on a thumping bassline and Jenny Mears pitch-perfect melodies. The lyric, “I love my music and I’m tired of my fake friends,” belies the gleeful sound which by now should have you dancing on the furniture. “Lost in Light Rotation,” featuring guitarists Chris Munford and Corianton Hale, is a blistering rocker that exceeds the testosterone challenges normally needed to mine such hallowed ground. The rhythm section of guest bassist, Mark McKenzie and drummer Jeff Fell lend a tight groove to “Westchester Turnabouts.” Imagine the ‘60s The Cyrkle trading playlists with Seattle’s The Young Fresh Fellows (another horribly ignored band) and letting it rip. “From Wichita with Love,” a sarcastic dig at the style before substance state of the indie scene (or so it seems) catches fire, an incessant beat and Mears vocals lending a tasty, sweet and sour flavoring so appropriate to the subject. “Elks Lodge Riot,” a perfect melding of pop and rock, continues the beat unabated. Just the name of this cut narrows the line between oxymora and irony. “Digging up the Graves” opens as another pop rock workout until background girl group vocals a la The Marvelettes, give it a Freddy Cannon, early ‘60s medium with a steady trumpet stream guiding the way. The surf-rock inspired “Wake up, Wake Up” and the quirky pop of “We Knew Your Name Until Your Heart Stopped” is a testimony to the diversity in which Tullycraft can take the craft of simple pop rhythms and turn them into ingenuity. The album ends (much to your chagrin) with “Anacortes,” a heartbreakingly beautiful pop ballad that folds these proceedings into a tightly ribboned package, much like a gift.

It’s rare in the music business that someone, a band or individual artist releases an album which truly carries not a weak cut on it. Some of that credit should go to the prolific Phil Ek, who mixed this album and from the sound of it just let the band loose to do what they do best. Tullycraft, have never failed to follow one of their albums with one better than the last. On, Lost in Light Rotation, they’ve taken a six year gap and turned it into not only the best album of their career, but without doubt one of the best of the year. Sure, call it what you want, pop, indie, hell, go ahead and call it twee. Just don’t mistake its cuteness for its bite.

Track List:
1. Agincourt
2. Queenie Co.
3. Lost In Light Rotation
4. Westchester Turnabouts
5. From Wichita with Love
6. Elks Lodge Riot
7. No Tic, All Tac
8. Dig up the Graves
9. Wake up, Wake Up
10. We Knew Your Name Until Your Heart Stopped
11. Anacortes

Tullycraft, Lost in Light Rotation, Seattle, Phil Ek, Sean Tollefson, Jenny Mear
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

86 / 100
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