Tomorrows Tulips - WHEN

by Al Brown Rating:8 Release Date:2014-10-06

The problem with slacker-rock is that too many bands took the slacker bit literally. You want to grab them by their grimy collars, give ‘em a good shake and scream about how their music is supposed to sound tossed off but not actually be tossed-off, y’know, if that wouldn’t be an entirely patronising thing to do to someone making a living in the music industry. That’s why I’ve been admiring Tomorrows Tulips for a couple of months, because, yes, it’s listless, derivative, three-chord, lying-on-my-bed-rock, but there’s something else there; ‘

’ isn’t just beautifully somnolent, it also seems to reach out and offer empathy and hope to each worn-down and world-weary listener.

That’s what I really want from these chill dudes and dudettes: camaraderie and honesty. The kind of slacker-rock that’s just one long snide stoner in-joke has its fans, but I bet they’re all wankers.

This album starts off really nice too, ‘Baby’ (

) may be ripped straight out of the Weezer songbook, but it’s 72 seconds of sugar-hit, lovelorn bliss. ‘Surplus Store’ and ‘Laying in the Sun’ owe a huge debt to Girls, or if you want to follow the lineage way back, The Beatles and The Velvets, the latter’s string-enhanced coda sounding like a Loaded offcut more than any other song I’ve heard. ‘When’ is distortion-heavy, Jesus & Mary Chain-style filler, unremarkable but not unwelcome.

A strong mid-section includes ‘Down Turned Self Pity’, a sweet, ramshackle acoustic number with strong echoes of Daniel Johnston. ‘I Lay in My Bed’ is a slightly less innocent update of The Beach Boys’ ‘In My Room’, less innocent because music this determinedly woozy will always have strong drug overtones, particularly when our protagonist sighs longingly about his unexpected lack of anxiety and aversion to natural light.

Tomorrows Tulips do so much right; clearly students of 'indie' guitar music through the ages, they’re adept at borrowing styles without seeming too clinical, or laboured, or obvious, and their choice of influences – at least to this indie-bore’s mind – is absolutely flawless. Maybe it is occasionally a bit low-effort. Songs drift along from short simple verses into short, preternaturally hooky choruses; lyrics are sighing, worn-down appeals for love and happiness that aren’t meant to be answered.

And there are mis-steps: ‘Papers By the TV’ is an undistinguished stab at post-punk posturing, and ‘Clear’ is like The Stone Roses on Valium. But generally, Tomorrows Tulips deliver exactly what I want: the melody and the empathy; the soothing balm that indulges and placates my numerous First World neuroses.

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