There's never a bad time to throw some jaunty jangle pop on the stereo. Roadtrip, pre-drinks, existential crisis; those shimmering chords and well-worn effect pedals can't help but transport us to a happier place. The latest outfit to get those ears ringing is Toronto quartet Tallies, their debut effort landing in time to get rid of those winter blues. Founded by singer/guitarist Sarah Cogan and lead guitarist Dylan Frankland, the eleven tracks on offer showcase a band happy to wear their influences on their sleeves, but yet to find their own niche.
Raised on a diet of The Sundays and Cocteau Twins, the former a very clear reference point on proceedings, the band's first full length is a serviceable slab of indie pop filled with one shimmering melody after another. Cogan's vocal work certainly suits the genre, and the group has clearly spent many hours with their favourite LPs, but there's a slight lack of meat on these bones.
That's not to say there's nothing to be enjoyed here, 'Midnight' and 'Have You' see Tallies lean into the dreamy aspect of the genre fully, producing two dizzying pop numbers in the process. Later, 'Trains in Snow’ with its murky production and waves of guitar, possesses an impressive shoegaze vibe, adding some much-needed grit to this set. Still, despite thematically dealing with the transition into adulthood, there's rarely a moment to distinguish one song from another. While fellow Toronto outfit Alvvays tread similar waters, their skillful lyricism and song structure reveal a group far more comfortable in their own skin.
It's the strange dichotomy of the HappySads that make so much dream pop and shoegaze work. At its core, there is always a sense of longing, nostalgia, or envisaging what could have been. It's how the likes of Beach House have managed to essentially sing the same tune for over a decade to great success. Hit the feels and subtly alter the sonics. Songs such as 'Eden' brush this element best, a hooky breakdown echoing Johnny Marr's most beloved moments and sees the band giving the track some much-needed room to breathe.
There's clearly a lot of promise here, but drenching everything in reverb and letting blast on the arpeggios doesn't equal a fully realised record. The band's musicianship is certainly accomplished, but the listener occasionally needs a reprieve from its sheer wall of jangle. Tallies have shown they're capable of paying homage to their heroes with aplomb, the real test will be what comes next.
Words: Sam Walker-Smart
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