Tullycraft – Lost In Light Rotation

What I Think of When I Think of This Artist (part 3)

There are good Tullycraft albums and great Tullycraft albums. This – the band’s sixth studio offering – is one of the great ones. What is surprising is that it appears to be their penultimate one, as the band has been silent since 2017’s The Railway Prince Hotel. Surprising because the band seemed to be evolving and growing and on the cusp of something more. Much like fifth album Every Scene Needs a Center saw more creative arrangements, here the band incorporates a trumpet, ukulele, and keyboards on multiple songs to broaden and diversify their sound. Too, the decision to work with Pacific Northwest legend Phil Ek (Built to Spill, Modest Mouse) to mix the album speaks to larger ambitions. Finally, Sean Tollefson abandons bass duties for the first time ever in order to focus on his vocals, particularly the more intricate interplay with co-vocalist Jenny Mears. All of this suggested a rising trajectory, so for it to seemingly come to an end is not what I expected.

What I Think of This Album

Six years separate Lost In Light Rotation from its predecessor, and the quintet sounds completely reenergized and refreshed. Every Scene Needs a Center was certainly a good album (with some great songs) but whereas that work sometimes (and oddly) indulged in B-movie imagery (e.g., vampires, werewolves, UFOs, fanged bats, goths), here Tullycraft focuses on buffing and shining their indie pop songs – with the usual subject matter of love, bands, and obscure references – until they gleam.

Frenetic opener “Agincourt” offers the lie of “I used to be clever / But it didn’t last,” even as Sean Tollefson spins out creative and charming couplets while reveling in thrift shop finds and lost love’s binds. The triumphant trumpet at the end is pure majesty. Tollefson and Jenny Mears collaborate a little more closely on the fizzy “Queenie Co.” The xylophone and various guitar tones that color the rambunctious title track demonstrate that Tullycraft is not messing around; you may dismiss indie pop as light and insubstantial, but this song is one of many that should prove the genre is capable of depth, complexity, and musicianship.

A hypnotic bass line anchors “Westchester Turnabouts,” on which the band slows down slightly and gives ample room to Mears. She bursts forth on “From Wichita With Love,” as they create a surprising medley with 1958’s “Do You Want To Dance?” (also covered by the Beach Boys). The hilarious refrain of “Shut up / Shut up/ Shut up” is but one small element of what makes “Elks Lodge Riot” such a fun, memorable song, with drummer Jeff Fell adding rapid fills throughout. The story of a failed band, as told on “All Tic, No Tac” is poignant and inspiring. The band rocks out on the celebratory “Dig Up the Graves,” on which Mears’ double-tracked vocals are a thing of beauty, and the subtle trumpet in the background is perfect.

Handclaps and an organ transform “Wake Up, Wake Up,” which is actually relatively sedate, and a ukelele is the foundation for the tender “We Knew Your Names Until Your Heart Stopped.” Mears’s powerful, clear vocals on “Heart” make it sound like she is auditioning for the next incarnation of the New Pornographers. Closer “Anacortes” (with a throwaway reference to Squeeze) is an ideal bookend to A-lettered, geographically-oriented opener “Agincourt,” giving you everything you could want from a Tullycraft song. 

The Best Thing About This Album

I should appreciate that this is the last great Tullycraft album.

Release Date

April, 2013

The Cover Art

Again the product of band member Corianton Hale, this simple but effective t-shirt would make a great birthday present for me, if anyone is so inclined.

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