There’s been so much blog buzz about the Minneapolis quartet Tapes ‘n Tapes over the last year that you’d think the band single-handedly altered the face of indie-rock forever. While The Loon was an underground, self-released smash that culminated in a sterling series of performances at this year’s South by Southwest, it’s more about how Tapes ‘n Tapes do what they do, rather than what precisely it is that they do. Deftly fractured rock, complete with jagged time signatures and yelped vocals that recall David Byrne, Win Butler, and Alec Ounsworth in equal measure, is Tapes ‘n Tapes’ stock-in-trade and much of The Loon—unchanged for its debut on XL—is a sprawling delight that only gets richer with each successive listen. Anxious guitar lines on tracks like “Insistor” have an alt-country flair, while “Crazy Eights” suggests bug-fuck crazy art-pop along the lines of a tranquilized David Bowie fronting Mercury Rev. The level of ambition is admirable, if somewhat debatable, since any number of oddball aficionados could cobble together an aural homage, but there’s a certain intangible glow radiating from The Loon. As one would gather from the ceaseless references, very little this quartet does is mind-blowingly original, but as noted earlier, it’s the competence and skill with which they openly thieve two decades of alternative rock that marks Tapes ‘n Tapes as whippersnappers worth keeping an eye on.
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