As we approach TKTTSM’s self-titled debut, we see a happy little girl frolicking through a sprawling meadow under the sun on a cloudless day. However, upon closer observation, the meadow is a minefield of experimental, psychedelic musical schemes, the sinister little girl is wielding a hand grenade packed with cynically laced intellectually charged lyrics and the sun is in fact Johanna Stahley and Owen O’Mahony pulling the puppet strings on this deceptively brilliant masquerade.
To step directly into the minds of Stahley and O’Mahony would prove delightfully dangerous to the public’s health. So this filtered insight is the closest we can safely get. Their approach to their writing and musical style is to pull back the curtain on the current human condition and expose their distaste for the power hungry individuals that run the world. Or as I like to call it, a refreshing mentality built around truth.
Powerful, well-orchestrated vocals combined with imaginative instrumentals mask a politically powered passionate message that is superficially pop. With lyrics like “Smash out your brains/lick all the lollipops/you haters are lame” and “to motivate/you’ve got to get your conscious unlocked/will Jesus come and squeeze us/when we smokin’ that rock” it is increasingly hard to not smile that little evil smile. Under TKTTSM, Stahley is Lene Nystrøm in sound, but her words are anything but Barbie; an impressive variance from her solo work. While she lays down a smokescreen, O’Mahony steps up and plays with your mind. Like in “I Wanted To,” the layered acoustic guitar is seemingly off beat from the rhythm, but only adds to the complexly awe inspiring sound the duo has crafted. To sit here and point out specific songs on the album which are noteworthy would imply there may be something wrong with the rest. With TKTTSM this is most definitely not the case. What it boils down to, is simply which you like the best. For me, I can’t get enough of the sultry delivery of “Dear Diary,” the ethereal rock sound of “Porcupine” and in message and sound “Plastic Fantastic” is going to get worn out by the number of times I repeat that song.
The debut album by TKTTSM is one of the most comprehensive debut albums I’ve heard in quite some time. The brilliance of their protesting cynicism fares will within the intelligent confines of their deeply layered sound. To say the least this is an album that will keep you on your toes and hold fantastic replay ability. Though a far cry of the sounds of their previous works, O’Mahony with Brendan James and Stahley’s contribution to a Lowes commercial, you can’t help but smile as the sinister little girl lobs that grenade your direction, breaking you for the hypnotic conformity the power hungry attempt to bestow on you.