The field of lo-fi indie duos is crowded these days, forcing reviewers to use words like “jangly” a lot and reference Velvet Underground ad nausem. Not that that wouldn’t apply well to the Tamborines, it’s just that there’s so much more to Henrique Laurindo (guitar, vocals) and Lulu Grave (drums, synth). Laurindo and Grave started out recording in a West London flat, releasing EPs on their own record label, Beat-Mo, including their debut Camera And Tremor last year. The record they’d produced themselves won acclaim for its blend of shoegazer reverb drone and pop finesse.
The pop approach to vocals grounds the Tamborines’ songs, while Laurindo’s omnipresent guitar buzzes away on tracks like “Sally O’Gannon” and “31st Floor.” Grave’s drumming is steady, never getting fancy, serving to anchor the tracks while she goes off on synth expeditions. What at first appears modestly built proves to be expansive and intricate once you’ve stepped inside. Laurindo’s vocals share commonalities with Lou Reed’s, but to say it’s the same misses the mark—his voice is goose down compared to Reed’s gravely grate. When it’s Graves’ turn to sing, she’s in line with Nico from The Velvet Underground And Nico.
The album cover for Camera And Tremor is the tips of two pairs of shoes pointed at each other. The slight blur to the picture is almost certainly intentional. The music on the album is hazy, a clear central image ringed with fuzz. That may be the best way to describe the album—pop music but blurry pop music. The structure of the Tamborines’ music borrows from strong roots in indie guitar and drums but bends what we know to form a new picture. Declaring the death of shoegazer may have been premature then, if the Tamborines have anything to say about it we’ll all be staring at our shoes.
The Tamborines plays Trash Bar on Saturday, October 22 as part of CMJ. Watch the video for “31st Floor” below: