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Tu Fawning – Hearts on Hold

Tu Fawning, Hearts on Hold

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

PORTLAND, Oregon based quartet Tu Fawning have variously been hailed as an ethereal act to rival Portishead and a band to rival the noirish elements of Tom Waits.

They recently told Popmatters that they aim to make their songs “sound as though they were played while a giant walks through a valley, a piano is stabbed in a 1920s basement, drums are beat on a mountain or that you’re singing in a cave”.

The former certainly applies to album opener Multiply A House, while the beating drums are apparent on The Felt Sense. But there’s a grand sense of the vaudeville elsewhere on Sad Story, while on former single I Know You Now guitars punctuate a sepia-soaked 1920s waltz, with both vocals and instrumentation distorted to disorientating effect at times.

Indeed, it’s during moments such as this that comparisons with Portishead are most relevant.

But Tu Fawning certainly have their own sense of identity and they’re not afraid to do things their own way. Hearts on Hold is therefore an acquired taste and not really one that panders to the mainstream.

It’s at its best early on, when the likes of Multiply A House and The Felt Sense really captivate. The former is haunting, almost serenely sluggish and definitely ethereal… a woozy horn-like synth arrangement and lazy drum beat creating an atmospheric backdrop to a song of genuine worth.

The Felt Sense, on the other hand, picks up the tempo with some terrific drum work that helps to generate a fantastic sense of rhythm – but one that has its own distinct sound.

Sad Story puts the piano to the fore, crashing down some fantastic chords, sprinkling in some horns and coming over all vaudeville, while Just Too Much weaves in a striking rolling guitar riff with another fantastic rhythm section.

But sometimes Tu Fawning’s sound can become a little overbearing and too ethereal, when the vocals are strained to the max and lose their appeal.

Apples And Oranges is one such example of a song that doesn’t work, while Hand Grenade is a little too weird to really get comfortable with – its central organ almost macabre.

That said, Tu Fawning still do enough to mark themselves out as an act to watch, while Hearts on Hold has some genuinely fine moments.

Download picks: Multiply A House, The Felt Sense, I Know You Now, Sad Story

Track listing:

  1. Multiply A House
  2. The Felt Sense
  3. Mouths of Young
  4. Sad Story
  5. Apples and Oranges
  6. Just Too Much
  7. Diamond In The Forest
  8. Hand Grenade
  9. Know You Now
  10. Lonely Nights