The experimental-ish noise collage that begins opening track “The Window, the Blanket and the Road” collides head-on with singer Aaron Patterson’s smooth adult-contemporary voice. It’s a disorienting but fitting setup for the uneven self-titled debut from locals Tongue Tied Lightning. The problem is that Patterson’s voice tends toward the restrained and politely scruffy style of pop acts like the Calling or Matchbox 20, while virtually every note his guitar and the rest of his band are playing is more ambitious and adventurous than either of the ass-hat acts I just name-checked are capable of successfully listening to, forget about playing. When Patterson loosens up to match the music, as in low-end heavy “Square Go” or Jeff Buckley via krautrock “Is There Anyone Left?” the results are impressive, but when the instrumentals are sparse enough to allow Patterson’s pop-rock sensibility to dominate, as in catchy “A Lie” or flowery album closer “Violet Hour,” the end product is, well, not bad either. The dichotomy is an uneasy one, however, and when neither side yields — “Window” or “Pull Me Out,” which regrettably expropriates lines from “I’m a Little Teapot,” for example — the effect is closer to listening to a decently synced mash-up of a promising post-rock outfit with Train. The weirdness (not to mention the sleigh bells, fiddle, mouth-harp, and Banana Splits “lala” chorus) works wonders, somehow, for album highlight “Scuttlebug,” though, so let’s keep an eye on ’em.
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