Even after listening to this vinyl-only release of New York weirdos, Tuck Tuck Tuck, I'm still not quite sure what the hell their story is. This oddball release of broken glass melodies at first seemed like a lost child, meandering endlessly toward nothing. But with each subsequent listen, each shard of glass seemed to fit into place, revealing something more majestic; some kind of beautiful, disjointed mosaic.
There aren't many comparisons to Tuck Tuck Tuck that would be accurate. The closest might be a more famous New York weirdo ensemble, Animal Collective, and even that's stretching it. While most of these songs feature vocals and a vague sense of structure, their key selling point is the amount of open space that litters the compositions. There's a lot of room to move in these tracks, and Tuck Tuck Tuck fill that space with gusts of recorder smoke and amp buzz. "The Story of..." is not short on warmth. As a listener, you feel like the only spectator watching these songs manifest themselves from the pit of Tuck Tuck Tuck's stomach.
Quiet electric guitar picking lays a fragile foundation on the untitled second track. The aforementioned recorder pokes its head above the horizon sporadically, adding a sense of whimsy to the song. But, as with most of these pieces, the strained, archaic vocals are the centerpiece. Vocally, there are hints of Will Oldham and Simon Joyner, but make no mistake, Tuck Tuck Tuck's voice is distinctly his own. This song, as with every track on this record, feels like it could fall apart at any second. It's like a ten-year relationship that's reached it's breaking point. You don't want to let go and are using everything in your arsenal to keep its mangled remnants together, but ultimately it disintegrates in your hands. This track works in much the same way, finally bowing out quietly underneath the whisper of a blown recorder.
On "Eyeballs," the highlight of side two, it feels like the song is being sung directly in your ear. The intimacy here cannot be faked; this is the Real McCoy. These half-whispered vocals will raise the hairs on your arms. It's like you can feel Tuck Tuck Tuck's breath on the nape of your neck. Single-plucked notes on an acoustic guitar are like an old, decrepit guide leading you through the darkest, most desolate of forests. There's not much light on this record, but it's darkness is a beacon of its own. Like a black hole, it sucks in everything around it, making it part of the greater message.
And that begs the question, what is the greater message? What is Tuck Tuck Tuck's story? I still have no answer for either, but on "This is the Last Brook You've Lost," I feel close to the truth. The combination of the slowly-picked guitar played in conjunction with a loosely-formed lead track reminds me a lot of the first Fuck EP. "When the wind blows, we'll all be outside. That's where I'll go," he coughs. There's no doubt that Tuck Tuck Tuck is trying to lead us to a place where truth and honesty are at the forefront in people's minds. This record feels like a declaration that, once stripped down to little more than flesh and bone, there's finally nothing to fear. This mix of structure and chaos is the perfect vehicle for this message. I still have no idea where Tuck Tuck Tuck came from, but I sure as hell will be closely following where he is going. 8/10 -- Brad Rose (25 May, 2005)