Tullycraft – Disenchanted Hearts Unite

What I Think of When I Think of This Artist (part 2)

I spent a month in El Paso in 2021. I was putting in twelve hour days six days a week, living in a hotel, and eating unhealthily, but doing very rewarding work. I had a twenty to thirty minute commute and on my days off, I drove even more to get in some sightseeing (e.g., White Sands, Carlsbad Caverns). At some point, Spotify offered me a Tullycraft tribute album, and I accepted. It had some great covers – Bunnygrunt’s “Not Quite Burning Bridges,” Sprites’ take on “Wish I’d Kept a Scrapbook,” and “Rumble With the Gang Debs” as interpreted by Fishboy. But three songs really grabbed me:  “If You Take Away the Make-up (Then the Vampires They Will Die),” (by L.A. Tool & Die), “Fall 4 U” (courtesy of the Special Places), and most of all, “Our Days In Kansas” (wonderfully done by Darren Hanlon and Rose Melberg (Tiger Trap, the Softies)). I played those three songs on repeat for maybe three weeks straight, any time I was in my rental car. I ended up altering the lyrics to “Kansas” to make it apply more to someone I could not stop thinking about (any more than I could stop listening to those songs). I know it was unhealthy, but I was stuck. God, I am so lonely.

What I Think of This Album

A magnificent achievement, this is a glorious indie-pop album bursting with melodicism, filled with warmth and wisdom, and generous with the surprises.

I need to start with “Our Days In Kansas,” which references Soviet experimental aircraft, raves, the Kansas University fight song, and disco, via couplets that leave you in awe. It also features at least four shifts in feel (including one stark change from a waltz to 4:4 time), but is always catchy and endearing, with wonderful group harmonies (including from recent member Jenny Mears). The bridge, though. Jesus. The bridge sideswipes you with a shocking lyrical reveal that renders the song a completely different shade of sad.

“Fall 4 U” is sweet and swoony, with call-and-response vocals between Sean Tollefson and guest Jen Abercrombie (Rizzo); the squiggly and bleepy keyboard backing is unexpected. Opener “Stowaway” immediately reveals the importance of adding Mears’s vocals, which create a much richer sound (and serve as a soothing counterpoint to Tollefson’s less professional singing). Meanwhile, closer “Secretly Minnesotan” boasts perhaps Tollefson’s most winsome vocal ever, with some impressive guitar work, plus wonderful harmonies from Mears (and a sort of New Order melody at the end).

“Every Little Thing” is full of sonic details and brimming with confidence, and “Leaders of the New School” is convincingly heart-breaking and self-flagellating. “The Last Song” is thematically too close to “New School” to justify sequencing them together, but the arrangements and feel are very different, enough so that each song can exist on its own merits. The relatively subdued “Polaroids From Mars” is an excellent deep cut, easily on par with the more uptempo songs found here. “Rumble With the Gang Debs” is an odd, borderline silly tune but completely enjoyable, while the rapid tumble of “Building the Robot” is endearing and exciting.

“Molly’s Got a Crush On Us” is a barely reworked cover of BMX Bandits’ “Kylie’s Got a Crush On Us,” but again, the female harmonies are fantastic. Meanwhile, “Girl About Town” is a cover of song by Welsh indie band Helen Love (though Helen Love is also a person in the band Helen Love).

The Best Thing About This Album

Obviously, “Our Days In Kansas.”

Release Date

May, 2005

The Cover Art

Backing vocalist on “Fall 4 You” (and future lead guitarist) Corianton Hale won an award for the design and layout of the album. I do like the vertical lines and the colors, as well as the fonts and the “stereo” graphic.

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