July 7, 2009

Review: Tarpits and Canyonlands

Last year, I came across the fantastic band Bombadil with their debut album A Buzz, A Buzz, which I loved for its quirky nature and fun sound. Now, the guys are back with their latest disc Tarpits and Canyonlands, which is out today in all fine records stores and via internet shops.

Tarpits and Canyonlands is a fantastic followup to A Buzz A Buzz, retaining much of the quirk and charm that they have since established with their prior works, but there is a hint of growth with this followup that demonstrates a bit of restraint and wisdom on the part of the group. They haven't felt the need to go and completely change up their sound - they have something that works, and works well, and as this album amply shows, they don't need to do much to it to make a fantastic record.

The record opens very strongly with a trio of songs - I Am, Sad Birthday and Honeymoon that set up the record nicely with a sound that's largely reminiscent of their prior record before the tone shifts slightly: Reasons feels more somber, Cold Runway, So Many Ways to Die and Marriage take on a far more reflective look towards storytelling than I was expecting, and the result gives the album a bit more depth and changes it just enough to prevent this album from falling into the trap of being a carbon copy of their first album. The tone picks up a bit more for the last third of the album with Laurita, Kuala Lumpur, Pyramid, 25 Daniels and Matthew, bringing out more of the odd sounds that the group has demonstrated in some of their concerts and other works.

When it comes to a followup album, there are a number of expectations, from fans, from critics and the members themselves. Everybody has their own ideas about what the direction should be, and it's a hard path to follow to both meet and exceed expectations. Bombadil has done this wonderfully with Tarpits and Canyonlands, by putting together a clever, interesting and reflective album that exceeds what they did with A Buzz, A Buzz. Hopefully, we'll see more of that in the future.

Sad Birthday - Bombadil
Pyramid - Bombadil