O, the third record from the literally toe-tapping Tilly and the Wall, starts exactly like a Tilly song has always started; a simple guitar strum, eighth note pattern, with a simple progression and an upward moving, if not slightly melancholic melody. "When there wasn't anywhere for me to go, I stumbled into deep love with your rock and roll" cries the band in unison, and then they do just that: stumble into rock and roll with more than just the traditional piano/tap dancer combination... we have fuzzy guitars, hard electric riffs, and a lead in to the albums fiery second track "Pot Kettle Black." It's at this point where you should be sitting back and saying to yourself: this is not going to be the same old Tilly.
The album still strikes the same notes here and there, tracks like "Cacophony" have the tapping/piano twinkle that made the band famous in the first place. However this is a progressive album, with Tilly taking lots of risks here and there with new sounds, crunchy guitars, expansive ambiance, and melodies that break the mold of the usual palette. Songs like "I Found You" and "Falling Without Knowing" sound like they are collaborations with bands more notably obsessed with
their respective sounds... "Falling" doesn't even have any recognizable beat besides the techno thumping... but hey, it's still pretty catchy.
The album seems surprisingly cohesive for such an exploration of different pop modalities. "Dust Me Off" is a well written, catchy, sticks-in-your-mouth kind of lyrical pop-fest, which seems odd juxtaposed next to "Chandelier," which sounds like older Tilly, plus some electronics, produced by the guy who does Arcade Fire or something. All the tracks have the kind of starry-eyed lyrics that make Tilly and the Wall appealing.
The trumpet on "I Found You" seems to be ushering in a new age of sound for Tilly, one that takes their traditional tapping/pop combination and expands to it to include some serious electric guitar riffs and cymbal crashing refrains. This is certainly more percussion based than any of their old stuff, which is surprising for a band whose claim to fame is a percussion gimmick (tap dancing in lieu of a drummer, both of which are present on the album). Old fans will find something new, and new fans will discover an old winning combination: good song-writing, catchy melodies, and a bunch of upbeat tracks. The album is no revolution, but it certainly makes for a good addition to the library. -joe puglisi