Album Review : Tu Fawning - Hearts On Hold

Tu Fawning: Like Portishead. Still, as they say “If you create a melancholic album of minor key, jazz infused songs with yearning female vocals accompanied by the occasional ambient drone, off beat rhythm and soulful sentiment you’re going to get compared to Portishead”. It’s not a well known expression, but it seems appropriate here.

Yet unlike their trip-hop predecessors, Tu Fawning rely less on electronics as they prefer to flex their musically competent muscle through a myriad of traditional instrumentation: guitars, pianos, organs, trombones and alike are used with aplomb to carve out their songs.

Yet such a display in musical mastery has only served to create fragmented and patchwork music that flits too easily from one idea to another. Perhaps this is a nod to an improvised style and as such is knowingly done, but that doesn’t stop this cacophony of sounds drowning us in a sea of pseudo –jazz clutter.

More straight forward arrangements such as ‘Apples and Oranges’ and ‘Just Too Much’ achieve a level of emotional connection that is conspicuously absent on the more audacious numbers. ‘The Felt Sense’, ‘Sad Story’ and ‘Diamond in the Forest’ all have their moments but any highlight is quickly skipped over in favour of another sparse brass breakdown or more thumping tribal drum changes.

A musical ADHD runs through the whole of ‘Hearts on Hands’ which makes for sometimes boring songs that frustrate more than surprise. Tu Fawning need to decide if they want to create vocal led songs or ambient atmospherics. And whilst they tussle with this choice the results created are messy and unfocused. Flashes of brilliance (the looping trumpet on ‘Multiply A House’, the roaring reverb guitar on ‘Hand Grenade’ or the eight bit drum beat on ‘Mouths of Young’ for example) appear too infrequently to make this record anywhere near cohesive. For an album that promises results through competent craftsmanship, it ultimately delivers little more than confusing noise.

I Know You Now by Tu Fawning by PMA