Marmoset – Tea Tornado

Marmoset - Tea Tornado

Marmoset - Tea Tornado

In the body that is pop music, Marmoset is a dislocated middle finger. The Indiana-based trio’s anemic pop can be a little unsightly for most listeners, and it leaves light headed music critics resigned to adjectives like “weird” or “unique”. Tea Tornado, Marmoset’s newest effort, continues the band’s 14 year tradition of making poorly sung, lazily played, dubious music sound sexy. If your taste in pop raises eyebrows on a regular basis, this could be for you.

Marmoset has the sound of heroin chic down to a science. Guitars are strummed with either too much focus or complete ambivalence and the drum and bass rhythms cling to normalcy. Confused lyrics are sung to a melody just beyond the music, and the music is written with too much defiance to be catchy. There are no effects apart from echo and reverb, but despite the lo-fi label, Tea Tornado confesses some good tones.

The band writes simple, melancholic, gritty songs. Yet, the attitude is not necessarily unpretentious. As musicians, these guys can come off as uncaring or lazy, but they can also seem cool because of it. Chances are they work harder than they let on.

For me, Tea Tornado‘s standout tracks include “Hallway” and “Peach Cobbler”. Probably the closest thing to orthodox pop on the album, “Hallway” clenches with energy except for, of course, the vocal. For Marmoset, the chorus is damn near a sing along. The loose, echo-heavy vocals on “Peach Cobbler” provide a great contrast to the nice, compact little sound of the monophonic riff and tight rhythm. The acoustic guitar sounds good here, too, and although the song doesn’t evolve, it works from start to finish.

The good guitar tones and layered vocals on the edgy “I Love My Things” also place this song among the elite. The mostly acoustic “He’s Been Napping” betrays a good deal of tension, but the group shouts hold this song back. Both “He’s Been Napping” and the downward rolling “Strawberry Shortcakes” establish an atmosphere that works in an off color way.

But the rest of Tea Tornado is either too slippery or sloppy to get get a hold of. The music all stays crooked, course, and coolly indifferent, but it can be grating or, as is the case on “Oh Dear Handlebars”, it can plod along sadistically. Marmoset is a cult favorite, and a cult favorite they will stay. So, do you feel like joining a cult?

Joyful Noise Recordings