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Tallies – Tallies (Fear of Missing Out)

Nostalgia. It’s sometimes a comfort blanket that we want to cling onto, it tends to coat the past with a sepia tinge. Things were better back then, so was the music, or was it? Music is so tied up with our memories and growing up that any critical distance is sometimes hard to untangle. You can also be weighed down by the past, sometimes living in it isn’t always the best idea. Brexiteers wanted to return us to the 1970s, and that worked out well didn’t it?

Like other North American bands before them Tallies‘ debut album elicits a kind of fond nostalgia for the sound of the mid 80s and early 90s, chiming riffs, billowing percussion are invested with vocals that oscillate between Liz Frazer and Harriet Wheeler, at times it’s like stepping back in time to when bands like The Sundays, The Smiths and Cocteau Twins were capturing hearts, but wraps it in modern, glossy production, that lends the sepia framing to this reminiscent sound. At times the swooning vocals and carousel of guitars that references 4AD are marvellous, while at others you wonder if this brand of nostalgia is a little too pretty and manicured.

Welcomed by the tumbling riffs and stacatto drums of the clawingly bittersweet ‘Trouble‘, over the next eleven tracks we are guided through a big-hearted examination of love, doubt, empathy and heartbreak, through an expertly executed glossy dreamy guitar music, the soundtrack to a coming of age 80s teen movie. The enveloping refrains and hip swinging ‘Have You’ makes up for its lyrical simplicity with its rushing melodies and sweet synth lines.

The exquisite ‘Beat the Heart’ was my introduction to the group, shimmering with jangly guitars supplied by Dylan Frankl, framed in widescreen percussion and filled like lungs of air with Sarah Cogan’s effortlessly wistful tone, this hook-laden and enchanting track taps into wider themes lamenting  “the lack of empathy that exists so strongly today.”  ‘Not So Proud’ is laced with an evocative vocal yearning and soul that throw off the shackles of anxiety with a glorious soul bearing chorus, clipped almost Spector drums and glistening guitars that spiral into the night sky.

Whilst vocalist Sarah Cogan, who, like Dolores O’Riodan, possesses a voice that’s at once arresting yet underscored by pain, is the undoubted star of this record, it’s guitarist Frankl who underpins these tunes. The Canadian youngsters clearly have a well-resourced 80s catalogue: the matriarchial advice of ‘Mother’ jangles with the sound of Postcard Records. While ‘Midnight’s downbeat combination of drums and arpeggios is redolent of The Queen is Dead era Smiths, well musically at least. There are times halfway through when this record sounds so impossibly polished that you struggle to connect with its glistening gleam; there isn’t an ounce of fat here , though at times you long for a kind of abrasiveness, or a surprise but in their lane, they can be very very good at what they do. The almost flamenco guitars and shuffling beats of ‘Giving Up‘ tease of a more expansive palette, that they may take up next time around. While the shimmering early CranberriesEasy Enough‘, that hangs heavily with unrequited melodies and glistening reverb filled backdrops, rounds things off pleasingly.

Tallies transport you back to the past, they conjure up feelings of your first crush or heartbreak and they also tap into teenage growing pains both musically and lyrically, on a strong debut of hazy melodies and 80s sounds. It occasionally soars when all the parts are in line – I would recommend the best moments here (‘Trouble‘, ‘Not So Proud‘, ‘Beat The Heart‘) – and it’s why I tipped them as ones to watch this year, but ultimately in one sitting Tallies debut is a little too shiny and reliant on their favourite records to really be standout. But for an emerging band’s first effort it’s at times certainly impressive. It also reminds us that, for better or worse, the past is a great place to visit but maybe we don’t want to stay for so long.

Tallies’ self titled album is out now on Fear Of Missing Out.

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.