Tanukichan - Sundays - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Tanukichan - Sundays

by Tim Sentz Rating:8 Release Date:2018-07-13
Tanukichan - Sundays
Tanukichan - Sundays

Hannah Van Loon’s Oakland based shoegaze project Tanukichan is one of several in recent years to take the genre and flip it on its side. Daring to be different, Van Loon’s debut album “Sundays” is a step in the right direction for a tired but devoted scene. Joining the likes of other genre-benders such as Jay Som and Kraus, Tanukichan may only be a tourist (time will tell) but her experimental pop tendencies are pushing shoegaze to new areas and breathing life into it finally.

Shoegaze and dream pop get blurred easily, but like her peers, Van Loon teeters between both effortlessly on “Sundays.” Clocking in at 31 minutes, “Sundays” pulls no punches and keeps the momentum laid out from opener “Lazy Love” throughout the entire journey. From the onset of the foreboding opening track, we’re transported by a thunderous MBV-esque bass line, something you’d expect to hear on a James Cameron film soundtrack, followed by crushing guitars. All of this is coupled by Van Loon’s borderline Beach House-influenced dreamy vocals. She’s in tune with her contemporaries, but not mimicking them.

Like Kraus did earlier this year, Tanukichan is merely playing with the concept of shoegaze, and doing herself a quality service by pushing the lines further and further. Instead of resisting the urge, or riding the line, she dives deep into lo-fi, feedback, and distortion on early highlight (and aptly titled) “Like the Sun” – a cut that sounds like it belongs on a classic shoegaze compilation. She’s not muddying the formula, she’s merely twisting it to fit her voice – something few dare to do. Like with all great shoegaze artists, Van Loon uses her vocals as another instrument, and she matches it bit-by-bit gloriously.

“Hunned Bandz” would fit comfortable on a pre-Loveless MBV record with a bit cleaner vocals, and Van Loon emulates Bilinda Butcher well – a little too well at times. It occurs often on “Sundays,” that moment when you question if you’re still listening to Tanukichan, or if the Spotify algorithm threw you into a “similar” artist. And while she tries to successfully hone those influences and craft them into noisy pop, she pulls it off most of the time. “Natural” is one of the best tracks on the album, but it precedes “The Blue Sky,” which isn’t a terrible track, just seems to be out of place on “Sundays.”

Shoegaze has been in a desperation mode for quite some time, pretty much since “MBV” re-drew the lines in 2013. But if bands like Tanukichan continue to meticulously reshape the genre, it’ll thrive more. “Sundays” is by no means a shoegaze classic, but it jumpstarts a mini-revolution. It doesn’t reinvent, but it does give us a taste of what artists can do when they let the sound drive them. The results speak tremendously to Van Loon’s delicacy with each track – and she’s letting the sounds carry her to the finish line allowing her listeners to drift off into the Sun with her. It’s bold, it’s refreshing, and hopefully it’s a taster for what’s to come.

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