Monday, May 30, 2011

Tally Hall - Good & Evil

Good & Evil is not so subtle of a title for a band that went from being local heroes to being swept up by a major label.

Tally Hall was a pop/rock jewel, living and contributing to inspiring camaraderie of the Ypsi/Arbor scene, until their debut caught the ears at Atlantic Records..., which, unfortunately, led to having any illusions horribly dashed by a wringing of compromises, thus the band was "jostled about like Ol' Willie's skiff in a Nor'easter..."

Listen: Tally Hall - "You & Me"

Tally Hall's newest LP (six years in the making, or at least six years, having simmered/cooled/on-and-off the productive burner), exudes the bittersweet savvy they've attained, only it's (bitter)sweetly translated into melodious metaphorical narratives across dashing and dynamic pop/rock arrangements, dreamily balancing the poignant and plaintively punching with surreal, waltzing ambiguities of sun-soaked psychedelia. Not heady/smoky/ With such honeyed harmonies and penchants for cascading pianos/hushing acoustic guitars, -this is the psychedelic-pop that conjures the scripture of Sgt Pepper's recipe of sweet-strange/dark-beautiful ballads of bemusing brevity. ("Misery Fell"'s minimalistic voice/bass/keyboard strut blends some McCartney's characteristic jaunty vagaries - think "Your Mother Should Know" married to "Eleanor Rigby.")

The string of titles on the track list seem to be considerably suggestive: "The Fate of Stars," "Never Meant to Know," "The Trap..."

Good & Evil, bares a few bruises upon examination and if you get into a staring contest with these still-admittedly-romping sunburst whirls, one might occasionally see the blink of eyes made weary, not just by the extended slog of sorting these songs together, but also the now-more-matured stare of hardened eyes that have clearly seen the disconcerting dream-straining line up of industry suits.

That said, this album isn't any downer, and not an overtly jaded monologue. Effervescent, exuberant, tumbling and taut - and made ever-that-much more triumphant by their having returned to Ann Arbor to release it with defacto family/friends, Quack!Media. As usual, their putting on a clinic in terms of graceful harmonies, delicately blending in the grayer hazy beauty of orchestral instrumentation - thus creating moods that range from breathless jogs and jumps to breezy sways all hung-up-on-a-dream.

But indeed, the sun gets a bit overcast on side two, as the eclectic, three-part arrangement "The Scarecrow" effectively opens the door to the more haunting pieces of the album...
...and again, with their potent pop sensibilities, this is the kind of haunting, a lightly used phrase, that one would welcome, even on the sunniest of days...

Tally Hall - Good & Evil release show - July 22 - at the Blind Pig

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