Come Dig Me Up, the second album from The Tailors, plays like an English take on American alt-country spun round through a bit of power-pop with an unshakably sunny disposition. The record’s nine songs breeze by in an all too fast, delightfully lazy and hazy 32 minutes but, in that time, The Tailors make a well-weighted case for simplicity as the key to staying power.
The Tailors seem to come from a simpler time of picking and grinning, of bare feet and barn-raising. But, they’re by no means simpletons. Acoustic guitar and lackadaisical drumming produce their primary noise, and the background vocals – when they arrive, as on the fantastic opener, Pictures Of Her – are soaked in dewy reverb. Lead guitars are spare, and serve only their specific purpose (as on the ’70s AM radio opening measures of Mush Love). Piano makes up the foundation throughout (Impossible Wonder, Come Dig Me Up), providing a sort of lilting, whimsical quality, and the overall vibe comes across as laid-back and meandering.
Adam Killip sounds a bit like Chris Martin without ever leaping into Martin’s trademark grating falsetto, and without even an air of pomposity. Indeed, despite the similarities in their timbre, Killip comes across as the opposite: impossibly meek and soft-spoken, a trait sparsely attributed to rock ‘n’ roll front men. His lyrics tend towards the melancholy, rife with images of tombs and dungeons and such, but the message is easily lost in all the sunshiny upbeat musical imagery.
With refreshing – though much en vogue of late – honesty, Killip confronts heavy topics, even allowing himself to come across as a not-so-nice guy. On the breezy unlove song Mush Love he sings a bit harshly: “You’re pretty, pretty forgettable, baby. I wonder will you forgive me if I forget to think about you. It doesn’t always have to mean something terrible has gone wrong.”
Killip describes his narrative stance on the standout title track as “…a dinosaur making peace with its partner ahead of their imminent extinction.” Here, he croons, “I’m sorry darling, my arms couldn’t hold you. It’s not what they’re made for and now it’s too late.” While, the song’s literal genesis isn’t immediately apparent, its emotional weight is carried in the lyric, “I’m sorry darling. I messed this up, but I’m okay now. Come beat me up sometime.”
Impossible Wonder, which ebbs and flows painstakingly slowly along the back of a lush piano arrangement, bursts unexpectedly into a drunken, syrupy distortion-heavy guitar solo. This isn’t the virtuosic alt-country-meets-jazz-fusion guitar style of Wilco‘s Nels Cline, but it does just the trick to push Impossible Wonder over the falls, into uncharted waters. Over all this, Killip sings, “Call when you’re ready; I hope I’ll be there.” He doesn’t sound like he means it, coming off as sullen above all, but his tone matches the slow-motion sun and swoon nicely.
Come Dig Me Up is a lovely little album with a bit of a cold soul, and it’s a standup example of what happens when English sensibilities meet the American alt-country aesthetic. The lyrics betray a loneliness and Killip’s disconcerted effort to “take care of love before it turns on us,” as he advises in the swaying Mush Love. However, you get the feeling that perhaps love has already turned on Killip and The Tailors, and now they’re reeling in all that unhappiness, turning it into something useful: a pop album to help pass the lonely hours, to put the pieces back together, indeed to dig you up when you need unburying.