Review: tUnE-yArDs - I Can Feel You Creep Into My Private Life

This fourth full-length album from Tune-Yards arrives some four years after their last release Nikki Nack. The project remains the brainchild of Merrill Garbus, but now bills bassist Nate Brenner as a full member.I Can Feel You Creep features the wacky, hyperenergetic, eclectic sound that we have come to expect from Tune-Yards. Each song is a cacophony of bouncy or squelchy synths, drum machines, handclaps, bass, saxophone, ukuleles distorted beyond recognition, and more. The parts are rhythmically distinct, intersecting in odd places, and creating a textually dense collage of noise. Above everything bursts Garbus’ voice: remarkably versatile, it shifts from joyous to shudder-inducing, from whisper to scream, sometimes resampled so that it glitches or even whirrs.Garbus’ socially conscious lyrics remain, too. Themes include environmental conservation, feminism, and most prominently, white guilt. ‘Honesty’ challenges determined ignorance of inequality, with a simple question: “Do you really wanna know?” ‘Now As Then’ provides a thought-provoking meditation on white artists’ borrowing from black influences. ‘Colonizer,’ is perhaps the most explicit self-critique, with Garbus lamenting: “I smell the blood in my voice.”These are heavy issues, but Tune-Yards manage to keep it fun through catchy arrangements that you can dance to. Tracks such as ‘ABC 123’ and ‘Look at Your Hands’ are positively infectious. The album only struggles when the tempo is turned down. Slower tracks like ‘Home’ and ‘Who Are You,’ while pleasant enough, simply cannot captivate the way much of this album does.In a nutshell: I Can Feel You Creep is an admirable inward examination, and it encourages the listener to do likewise.