Optimists are often a group of people as maligned as child-murdering pathologoists. Tilly and the Wall are just the type of people to be treated with such suspicion. Upbeat major chord choruses? Joy-filled singalongs and coy lyrics? Brightly coloured clothes? A tap-dancer where a rhythm section ought to be? Let them be as happy as they want, just keep them away from my kids.
Yet for all their unbridled glee, this five piece has come a long way from dreary old Omaha. While the baroque self-torture of their big-sister band, Bright Eyes got Conor Oberst out of Nebraska, Tilly’s hearty approach is earning them as much success as Bright Eyes did in the early days. This, their third album, sees Tilly expand their jumble-sale folk sound to a wider pop platter for the more diversely peckish amongst us. Forays into electro-pop and more traditional percussion (i.e. anything involving a stick instead of a pair of tap-shoes), as well as some flamenco-style brass to match Jamie Pressnall’s moves show a band wise enough to know the limits of their schtick. The album opens with the simple strum of Tall Tall Grass, an ode to rock and roll, before blazing into electric stomp Pot Kettle Black, which unexpectedly follows the trails of the minimalist 4/4 blues of the Kills, but brings along decidedly more high-school bitchfest lyrics for the ride. The album then moves into more traditional Tilly and the Indiepop Massive Chorus territory. Alligator Skin is the major key antithesis to their last album’s smash Bad Education.
Evidence of the band’s will to progress is most obvious in Falling Without Knowing, a product of producer Mike Mogis’ DNTEL-esque electronics. The band’s self-assuredness allows a flux between styles most other bands are fearful of. It works perfectly for Tilly however, one minute they’re filling disco floors with the stripped back, percussive Beat Control, the next virtually soundtracking Gossip Girl with irrepressible strums and soaring call-and-response vocals as on, I Found You. There’s even a punkabilly track in case you get bored with the rest. Don’t worry though; unless you have as short an attention span as these five Peter Pans, you won’t.
See also: The Eames Era- Heroes & Sheroes [Self-released], Mates of State- Bring It Back [Moshi Moshi]
Words by Daniel Gray