Toronto-based jangle troupe Tallies (Sarah Cogan, Dylan Frankland & Cian O’Neill) offered up a slice of ethereal dreaming on their 2019 debut LP. The band’s tasteful blend of alternative guitar pop sensibilities – with a soaring nostalgia at its core – succeeded in inviting fans from indie scenes and the mainstream alike into their philosophy. Once the pandemic hit, however, their efforts to maintain deserved momentum reached a stopping point.
Simon Raymonde – former Cocteau Twins bass player and founder of Bella Union – took notice of Tallies’ plight, and made a point of signing the band, forging a trans-Atlantic working friendship that injected energy back into their craft. And thus, the Tallies have released their exquisite, rose-tinted sophomore album ‘Patina’.
The trio kick off with a characteric juxtaposition of optimism and poignancy. ‘No Dreams Of Fayres’ is a crystalline, soaring depiction of dream pop, its sombre tone (reminiscent of The Cranberries and Slowdive) sees singer Cogan exploring the vicious cycles of teenage depression, while its arrangement provides cathartic hope. The record toys further with dream pop notions; ‘Heaven’s Touch’ carries a satisfying haziness, steadier than its predecessors and bolstered by an in-the-pocket backline, while ‘Am I The Man’ hints at shoegaze with its sugarspun descending progression and psychedelic whammy stabs.
‘Patina’ contrasts its dreamier moments with crisp jangle pop tropes. Songs like ‘Memento’ and ‘Special’ employ oxymoronic light and shade, their drifting verses tastefully mellow, while their choruses bubble with vibrant releases. In a similar vein, the washy, early R.E.M.-esque ‘Hearts Underground’ and cathartic album closer ‘When Your Life Is Not Over’ hint at a heaviness that, commendably, never eclipses a softer, emotive lyrical intent.
The musicality of the band, a consistent merit of the album’s soundcraft, encourages Tallies’ indie sensibilities to break into mainstream pop contexts. Frankland’s defiantly understated guitarwork, O’Neill’s attentive dynamic contrasts and Cogan’s whispered, echoing topline all serve a wondrous sonic cohesion. At times the vocals do tend to suffer from an over-prominence in the mix, and may have benefitted from being further obscured and distanced with echo, but on the whole the delivery acknowledges and accommodates the musical direction.
Fleshing out dream and jangle pop tropes to align with a more modern sensibility, Tallies succeed in uniting the indie crowd and the pop crowd under an ethereal umbrella. Patina is a solid sophomore effort, and perhaps hints at the promise of a greater sonic exploration to come with their future releases.
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Words: Kieran Macdonald-Brown