It’s safe to say that The All New Adventures of Us won us over with their single Firetruck (Doki Doki). The sheer exuberance of the brass fills and the adventurous nature of that single hinted that here was a band that could do great things.
So we were hoping for great things from Best Loved Goodnight Tales. This was to be an adventure into the unknown, it was, we hoped a chance for Tanaou to show us more.
Sadly, we can’t help but feel a little bit let down by Best Loved Goodnight Tales. More often than not their downfall comes in the shape of the vocal delivery and the lyrics. We’re not talking about the harmonies, which are at times sublime, it’s the deadpan delivery that sits at the centre of each song.
At best, it’s similar to Paul Heaton or perhaps Eddie Argos of Art Brut, at worst, it’s the sound of a monotone bookworm returning his books late and telling his tale of woe to a disinterested librarian.
Worse than that is the lyrical ineptitude on display. They try so hard to be evocative, but tangle themselves up in bad poetry.
Worst offender on that score is L�ftests Gr�nd / New Year Outro which overplays its hand terribly. In painting a scene of late night disillusionment, it layers up images to such a point that any gravitas the song might have had is lost by trying to be too clever. The average Sixth Former would snigger at some of this stuff and tell them that less is more sometimes. This is not so much Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks, it’s more Happy Shopper Shitehawks.
The lyrics that permeate BLGT aren’t so much poorly thought as thought about too much. They feel contrived and deliberate, from the head rather than the heart, and at their worst as if written by committee.
Putting all this to one side, Tanaou are not too bad when it gets down to the actual music. At times it is a little bit bland, but when they get really stuck in, things start to get interesting. It’s as if the tweeness is something of a mascarade. OK so the nice gentle stuff is exactly that, but for the most part it’s ineffectual and meanders along without consequence.
When Tanaous cut loose, they actually sound like they’re having fun rather than playing notes of a page, and that’s when they become a much more lovable prospect. A good example of this can be found on The Art of the High five which starts fairly innocuously before building towards a conclusion that for once sounds as if it comes from experience rather than a poet’s postulation. “Does anyone remember love? When you grow up your heart dies” actually sounds as if it means something – high fives all round then.
This is an endearing album, of that there is no doubt. It’s impossible not to get taken in by the cutesy female vocals and the delicate arrangements, but when you take a step back you realise that much of it is instantly forgettable. Stick with Firetruck and The Art of High Fives and you’ll find the best Tanaou has to offer at the moment.