Tusks – Total Entertainment album review

Canadian band Tusks “Total Entertainment” album is a relatively diverse set of tunes, though I think everything fits well within the modern indie mindset.  Opener “Little Pirouettes” is a bit of a turn off with its, to my taste, overly plodding style, but I think a listener without my prejudices towards energetic rock would enjoy it just fine.  The second song “Oceans” is probably my favorite track on the whole album, a polite little piano driven rock song that has no pretense to greatness but is fun enough.  For some reason I hear echoes of Andrew Gold’s “Thank You For Being A Friend”, probably better known as the theme song from “The Golden Girls”, in “Oceans” but that might just be because I am moderately mentally disturbed.

“Family Arms” continues the polite up tempo indie vibe until the mandatory mid-album ballad “New To Old Money”.  It was here that I finally really started to notice keyboard player, Shaw-han Liem.   It’s too bad the guitars are so much farther up in the mix, not merely because they overshadow Mr Liem’s capable playing, but because I think a lot of these songs would work pretty well as new wave style piano and organ driven numbers.  Mind you, that’s a minor artistic quibble.  The guitars as well as every other instrument are quite well written and played.  And the production has a crystal clarity that allows even the softer instruments to be heard clearly.  That production probably does hurt the album’s power somewhat, there’s not a bit of grit in here.  But this isn’t supposed to be an exercise in gritty rock’n’roll, the polished aesthetic is very much a part of their sound.

Second to last on the record is the most fun song, the uptempo dub of “In the Beginning/Give It Time”.  Unfortunately they choose to end with another plodding number in “To See It Through”, the first half of which almost touches on piano driven Billy Joel-style balladry.  I’d prefer a little more aggressive closer, but again, that’s personal taste.  All in all a decent little record, if affable indie rock is your thing.

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