Tune Tank – Invasion Of A Skyline
Tune Tank – Invasion Of A Skyline – Album Review
As you might have heard on the last episode of the SBS Podcast when we played a brand-new tune off Invasion Of A Skyline that I’ve been looking forward to this album with great anticipation. Ever since I laid my ears upon the golden pop-infused gem that was their first single from the record, called “An Innocent Man” – I felt like this band of brothers from Sweden would most certainly go on to create something incredibly strong on their upcoming album if the lead-track was setting the bar that high. Truly still adore that song and listen to it any chance I can. Wouldn’t you know it…”An Innocent Man” is also the first track you’ll hear when you put on Invasion Of A Skyline by Tune Tank…that my friends, is putting your best foot forward for sure. If they’re looking to make a solid first impression with the people out there – I absolutely think “An Innocent Man” is the perfect choice for the introduction.
But of course I’m familiar with that tune from Tune Tank already…and my feelings certainly haven’t changed a bit…still love it…but it’s what comes after it on this record that I am fully ready to explore this time around. With another nine-tunes for ten-total on this album…I’m stoked to hear what they’ll come up with…but if one thing is clear, the A&R department of Tune Tank is on their A-game with a great selection in using “An Innocent Man” and its beautiful melody as the lead-single to hook the people in.
The rhythm, brightness and groove in their energy carries right into “Insane” – and slowly but surely, the excitement builds solidly as this second cut plays. They’ve written a clever song around the vocal-hook in the inclusion of the word “Insane” punctuating different examples of insanity shown through the lyrics. This method…sometimes works, sometimes doesn’t when artists/bands try this style of writing with a repetitive hook – but I think it actually works really well here and kind of subtly drives-home the ultimate point the song is trying to make. When you look at it like that…it’s kind of like, the sanest approach to insanity that’s ever been made, isn’t it? The chorus on “Insane” absolutely hits the mark dead on with tons of enthusiasm, tone & melody to spare…very uplifting sound to it all and it really picks up the already-contagious excitement in the song to take it to the next-level right when it should. Great harmonies – singing & melody are a complete strength in Tune Tank…they finish this first new track to me with real vibrant sound that’s like vivid colour – and to actual applause! No doubt! I want to cheer for these guys myself…was happy to hear Tune Tank start the record with real energy and two powerful tunes back-to-back like that.
“52 Factorial” – there’s a lot I want to say about this tune. Mood & atmosphere soften to a ballad and intricate guitar-work that sounds truly beautiful. Vocally…man…this is a tough one! For me…personally, I wouldn’t change a thing…I think anything that’s questionable about the tone is slightly questionable at best – and again, personally I appreciate the honesty in this performance. For the most part, the vocals match beautifully – and at times, they hit some of the best moments you’ll find in the melodies throughout the record right here…your ears accept anything else around them almost by default. Essentially there’s so much going RIGHT in this tender tune that anything you’d might feel sounds slightly awkward at first becomes the most beautiful parts about what you listen to. “52 Factorial” has a genuine sweetness to it that I thought was really intimate and admirable…and it was my first experience hearing Tune Tank in a different light, which I thought really worked well for them.
The musicianship in this band deserves some credit…and they reach out for recognition in the impressive composition of “The Beauty In The Beast.” A seriously impressive multi-layered cut – it has both gentle & mild as well as more intense & energetic parts in the writing, making for a tremendous listen over all as the change through the transitions. It’s the longest tune on the record by a single-second – but they make every second count on this track. Tune Tank adds a level of maturity to this cut and strips away some of their natural loveable sound for what sounds like a song that ends up with added depth in comparison to some of the rest. It might be the more ‘adult’ side of the music/band – but “The Beauty In The Beast” really highlights the fact that these boys are growing up RIGHT.
“Sometimes I Do” was another great blend of tempo, ideas & tone as Tune Tank heads into softer territory…this song will tease at a potential rock-explosion at one point, but the build-up actually pays off with pop-infused melody. Fans of The Verve Pipe, Weezer, Third Eye Blind or Jellyfish would get a ton out of the music that Tune Tank creates; they execute with a professional approach but create rhythms and melodies that we call all experience equally and still have fun with even in the most serious of times. “Sometimes I Do” fits the billing for that role…it’s a bit more on the serious-side like “The Beauty In The Beast” was, making it a perfect choice to come next…you’ll notice this record has a strong layout & flow that creates a truly captivating atmosphere. Magical guitar-work on “Sometimes I Do” and bold backing vocals lead this one to victory.
Excellent imagery in the words of “The Visitor” take the spotlight, as do the punched-up drums and shifting energy of this tune by Tune Tank. Lyrically I thought this song was one of the strongest on the record…and I liked how a lot of what we hear on “The Visitor” and the insightful words it contains comes through both the lead and backing vocals. Great descriptions, high in sincerity and Tune Tank’s mixture of bright & bold style…solid energy and harmonies throughout keep the entire atmosphere full of strong melody and catchy sections to grab your attention. Took me a long time to figure out who it was that they reminded me of on this particular tune…but there were distinct similarities in the approach and writing; it was the Canadian band Treble Charger…from their earlier work like the Self = Title record. Similar way of handling a large amount of information and story, melody and energy all rolled into a perfect moving entity…I really liked the intimate honesty of the writing of “The Visitor.”
Catching my ear and attention instantly were the riffs and flowing movement of “Mindtrap” – so much so that we played this track from Tune Tank on the latest episode of the SBS Podcast as we talked about Invasion Of A Skyline and how much I’d been looking forward to this album. I WAS looking forward to this record! I don’t need to look forward to it anymore – it’s HERE! And if “Mindtrap” isn’t a solid reason to jump up & down and celebrate – I don’t know what is. The beginning of “Mindtrap” is complete awesomeness and the kick into the song is as solid as solid can get. Oddly enough, they reminded me a bit of another Canadian band here…the short-lived project called Change Of Heart – again, similar energy and vocal-madness all amped-up in the swirl of completely identifiable melody. Tune Tank has done a tremendous job on the lyrics of “Mindtrap” and how they’ve chosen to sing them…the words snap together firmly like pieces of a puzzle…and brick by brick, they build an incredible track here. Loved the instrumental section, loved the verse and I was blown away by the chorus on this cut…excellent synth sounds come roaring into the spotlight of this one, but overall you gotta hand it to the edgy-grind of the guitars on “Mindtrap” & the vocals here…they’re killin’ it & doing an incredible job.
I was a little more tossed-up on the sound of “Caveman” – which could arguably be one of the more tenderized tunes you’ll find on this record. What I liked…was certainly the melody itself…I think it was incredibly strong and the structure of this song overall is built on strength after strength. Wonderful bass tones, great guitars…opening vocals, check…”Caveman” almost starts out sounding like a track by Feeder and ends up sounding more like something by the Fountains Of Wayne. Additional strings and drums come in to liven-up the atmosphere even more; were it not for the lyrics of the chorus on this one I’d be in complete support of the entire song, but I just couldn’t get into the repetition of the “Caveman” part as far as this song goes. Melody-wise, again, I think it’s super-strong…I just had a harder time connecting to the words on this one throughout the hook. Love the verse, love the approach and love the atmosphere they’ve created here…really do like the overall idea in the writing here too…it’s that whole ‘nice guys finish last’ idea re-worked – Tune Tank has assessed it’s the “Caveman” to blame for that. I feel like I get the idea…and the imagery they use to support the idea in words works well – I would have just opted for a few more words rather than the repetitive “Caveman” lines…might just be me. For me – the real magic of this tune comes from the instrumental voyage it takes you on from the second minute to the third – right in there, without even a word, Tune Tank sounds powerful, interesting and charismatic to the ear.
They have the advantage of being brothers for sure…just hearing how each player and personality supports the atmosphere of a track like “Down” is a real pleasure to listen to. Beautifully led by a melancholy vibe and piano…much like “Caveman” before it, “Down” also shifts into a gorgeous instrumental section right around that second minute in before coming back to a fraction of the chorus to end the song; the immaculate intimacy of this song is audibly tangible. You feel really close to Tune Tank on “Down” – and the sincerity of the overall sound pulls you right in close like you’re their best friend and they’ve really got something important to tell you. And like the good friend you are and you’ve always been – you WANT to listen. “Down” was a real highlight for me…it might not be the happy upbeat version of Tune Tank I first discovered on “An Innocent Man” – but there’s no doubt in my mind at all that this is about as perfect as writing gets on this piano-led ballad towards the end of the record. A real time-stopping moment…perfect approach to the vocals…the pacing, the instrumentation, the melody…the harmonics and guitar…on “Down” – you name it and Tune Tank has nailed it.
Bringing in a more pronounced synth-blast into the opening of the final track “California Let Down” – they break into slightly more progressive territory here with all the twists and turns of their last song. But that’s what you’re supposed to do right? You’ve gotta end the record with impact…and that means pulling out all the stops at the end and really going for it – and I felt like “California Let Down” really doubles-down to make that strong impression. Even though I’m a staunch advocate on behalf of the entire music-community stopping their songwriting efforts being based around this ONE area of the world (seriously…with all the songs written about California out there you’d think we all lived on ONE continent…and that it’s called, yep, you guessed it – California) – I’m willing to give Tune Tank an exception and pass here…because I really think they do raise up their game one final time here at the end of Invasion Of A Skyline. They might leave behind a little of the wonder and innocence of where they had started the record – but I think by the end here, they reveal a band with a lot more to offer than blissful pop-infused hooks. Tune Tank can write a real meaty song that has real staying-power…material that lasts and lasts – and I think “California Let Down” is real proof of that. Fantastic instrumentation on this final tune…great solo-break and the ending is spectacular; Tune Tank puts absolutely everything into the last moments of this album and leave no stone unturned in exploring this final song…it’s a fantastic note to leave us on.
I feel…like the waiting was completely justified. I’m quite happy to wait on a record anxiously when I have faith that the material following a lead-single will prove to be just as exceptional. I think that Tune Tank took this record in quite a few directions that I didn’t expect them to – but I think that each time they surprised me with a new dimension to their sound, they really impressed me with it. They should be proud of this record – Invasion Of A Skyline is tight from every angle of the musicianship, has excellent energy and atmosphere and truly delivers melodic delight consistently. Wonderful record – as strong and captivating as you could ever hope a debut album to be.
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