Album: Tapes 'n' Tapes

Sometimes, it's hard to see what all the fuss is about when an unknown band suddenly becomes flavour of the month. Take Minnesota's Tapes 'n Tapes, whose 2006 debut The Loon drew unaccountably rave reviews for its routine alt.rock exercises.

Part of the problem is the fuzzy, surging sound – possibly the work of producer Dave Fridmann – of tracks like “Le Ruse” and “George Michael”, which simply renders Josh Grier’s already halting, tremulous vocals all the more inaudible.

But the main source of irritation is the way the quartet half-heartedly try to jessy-up their drab indie-rock with half-formed decorative ideas, like the virtually subliminal jazz piano sunk deep beneath “Conquest”: if it’s worth hearing, let’s hear it. And if you’re going to give a track a title like “George Michael”, you'd best ensure your song is the equal of the subject's own. Which this ain’t.

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