A Monument

Release Date
A quick Google search for ‘Tu Fawning’ reveals 745,000 results. This may seem like a lot at first glance, but a search for a band like ‘Radiohead’ gives 77,000,000 results. This lack of internet presence gives Tu Fawning an air of mystery about them. If one searched Radiohead, they could find almost anything they wanted about the band: all the members, where they grew up, their parent’s names, etc. However, a fan of Tu Fawning doesn’t quite have that luxury. This feeling of mystery extends into the band's music. Almost every song off of the Portland group’s sophomore effort A Monument has a distinct aura of mystery and theatricality, which is the key to the album’s success. The record opens up with the thundering percussion of “Anchor,” which gives way to chilly keyboards and a smoky guitar slightly reminiscent of Beach House’s “Zebra”. The star of the song is the lead vocals, which drift atop the instruments like a ghost would float above water. The subtle details in the vocals catapult the song to new heights, especially during the crashing chorus, where the vocals become double-tracked. Another highlight is the guitar-based “Wager,” which moves at a faster pace than the opener. The track feels more “rock” than some of the others. The percussion pounds underneath distorted guitar chords and multi-tracked vocals. There are a couple moments during the song where a distorted lead guitar comes out of nearly nowhere to add some excitement to the track, and it works fantastically. The overall texture of the album is varied, but two elements that truly stand out are the drums and the vocals. The percussion oftentimes feels tribal, adding to the theatrical feel of the album. The vocals are usually subtle and precise, but occasionally reach dizzying heights, like in “Build a Great Cliff”, where they sound nearly operatic. The combination of hard-hitting percussion and masterful vocals help make this album feel more unique. A Monument isn’t without its faults, however, and can occasionally feel a bit slow, edging on tiresome. “To Break Into,” nearly six minutes long, attempts to create an atmosphere with quiet horns and a finger-picked acoustic guitar but the track lacks any particularly interesting elements. “To Break Into” fits well with the tone of the album, but doesn’t work very well as a stand alone song. However, it can be overlooked when a stellar track like “Bones” follows it. Standing at nearly eight minutes, it never loses its edge, and reminds the listener why they’re listening in the first place.