They say love is better the second time around. But does it apply to the musical bond of two old friends? When Sam Genders and Mike Lindsay first met, Tunng represented the blossoming stage of a relationship where you didn’t really know where you were going but everything was tuned to your rhythm, there was a spring in your step and it was maybe a little mawkish for some. After nearly ten years apart, Sam and Mike have decided to rekindle their harmonic chemistry to bring us THROWS.
So is it better? Well, it’s altogether more serious but there’s an honest maturity to it too. And when it opens with ‘The Harbour’ where Sam’s freshly found falsetto cries, “we are here and it’s hard to be perfect, we are human, and we hurt each other, and we hurt ourselves”, it’s difficult not to carry on with this analogy. This new bromance feels so much richer and more meaningful.
That may sound saccharine, but ‘Punch Drunk Sober’ occupies a distinctive auditory spectrum that highlights THROWS’ new sound; there are spooky synths, kaleidoscopic arrangements and a murky aesthetic. The track bulges and contracts which makes it a little less accessible but there’s more to explore and it’s more likely to pique your ears.
But who’s to say that Sam and Mike can’t find that old magic from Tunng again? Those who did enjoy their folky wistfulness will find it in ‘Silence in Between’ where the feel-good timbre will wash over you. Don’t settle too quickly though, just are you’re getting comfortable, ‘Knife’s expansive electronica hits you from the future.
It’s difficult to pick a favourite from such a varied and dynamic album, but it may have to be ‘Sun Gun’. The cold, off-key piano paints a starkly accurate picture of Iceland and Reykjavík: the cold, still air; the introspective nature of isolation; and the freedom of its wilderness. Then Sam and Mike’s whispering vocals harmonise like Simon and Garfunkel’s to produce a vulnerability that feels like the top of a crème brûlée.
However, introspection isn’t always so easy. Quite often in fact, if you allow it, introspection can be rather uncomfortable. In ‘Play The Part’, your auditory senses will have to deal with ominous basslines and heavily delayed vocals leaving you with this jittery choral layer. It may sound messy and there’s no doubt people will shun its experimental approach in the same way that they shun the uncomfortably honest truth. But for me, it’s alluring dark.
Overall though, the bromance is blooming. Tunng was perhaps a little one-dimensional at times but not here. There’s maturity (‘Sun Gun’), adventure (‘Knife’), and patience (‘Under The Ice’). It leads to an album that meanders along enjoying every turn and soaking in the sights in every direction. I don’t think many bands could put ‘Silence In Between’ and ‘Play The Part’ in the same album without raising eyebrows. And if you do raise your eyebrows, it’ll be in astonishment while you savour the diversity of the album.
So is it better the time around? In this instance, yes.
Debut self-titled album released 10th June 2016 on Full Time Hobby