The trouble with the Midwest is that we tend to ape what each coast squeezes towards us. I’m sure acid wash jeans hit the land-locked midsection several years after the fact and that the hip coastal kids laughed at our delinquencies. But I’m also sure there were a couple of Midwesterners that looked good in those acid wash jeans too.
Tapes ‘N Tapes are those good looking kids, even though the clothes they’re sporting are a little dated and more than a little contrived. It still fits.
Put a blindfold on it and you’d swear that the Pixies reunited, toured, and presented “The Loon” as their comeback album. Hell, by track three (“Insister”), they’re quoting “Harvard Square” like they’re from the Pixies’ stomping grounds and they’re galloping along just as good as Black Frances did in “Vamos.” But singer Josh Grier doesn’t seem to have the sense of humor that Frances does in his songwriting, so all we’re left with really is a lot of head-scratching lyrics (“in Houston/in Oslo/the contracts/they can’t slow/and no sex/and no sleep/it’s hard toe/it’s hard speak”) and a good idea what he and the other fellas did during harsh Minnesotan winters: listen to a lot of records from the Pixies, Pavement, The Shins and maybe even a few Modest Mouse albums.
So honestly, I should be really harsh on ‘em. But I can’t. Not only are the songs on “The Loon” so completely familiar, they’re also earnestly executed. Honestly, a track like “Omaha” is just as good as anything on “Chutes Too Narrow” and if more songs were like the ones on “Chutes Too Narrow” you wouldn’t hear me complaining.
So I know all about the hype machine of this band (and the upcoming backlash, I suppose) and I know how it’s not going to change the world or inspire others, since it essentially mirrors its own inspiration. I also know that I’ve been playing it all summer and have yet to be disappointed with the results. But now the pressure should be surely felt by the members of Tapes ‘n Tapes for their follow-up. Margaret Fairless Barber once said “To look backward for a while is to refresh the eye, to restore it, and to render it the more fit for its prime function of looking forward.” Now is the time for them to figure out who they really want to be, to start building upon their obvious influences and to start looking forward.