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Reviews

Mock & Toof
Tuning Echoes Noel Gardner , June 7th, 2010 08:04

I guess – I've never asked – that part of the reason this website doesn't list the name of the record label in their album reviews is to counteract the scourge of priapic-on-their-own-nerdery judgmental skimreaders who cursor-scoot around the net, clocking the initial column inch or two of record reviews and deciding whether or not it's going to be worth their while continuing based on the information afforded them in these brief seconds. Mock & Toof are a duo from London and Tuning Echoes, their debut album, is NOT on DFA Records. Are you still there? Is that cool with you? They have however had enough releases on James Murphy's 'achingly hip' label (note to self: start up a label called Aching Hip in the next decade) to be considered a 'DFA band', so it's not like I'm keeping you reading on entirely false pretences. (The album's actually released by Tiny Sticks, which is ran by the duo themselves and which has put out plenty 'nuff electro and cosmic disco twelve-inches to have established a perfectly credible name for themselves, thankyouverymuch.)

Still. Music nerdery (priapic or otherwise) is more often than not absorbed by osmosis rather than consciously learnt, and in this benighted age, faceless outlets be vyin' for your attention – so it's understandable that people make snap decisions about the worth of someone's art based on a scant dribble of detail. Maybe you already think Mock & Toof are gonna be some sockless exhibition-launching waft of mezzobrow cod-sophistication and ruthlessly correct musical references. If you have those presumptions, Tuning Echoes is likely not for you, but if you're not quite that stangry, it's not half bad.

They start by half-suggesting to you that they have elected to do the wallflower shuffle for their first full-length, in lieu of the dancefloor appealing for a solid hour or so. 'Farewell To Wendo' is wistful, danceable post-punk with a German woman, name of Pollyester, singing "Murder me with orgasms / Formula! Formula!" and other such common sense. A bit Stereo Total and a bit Junior Boys, it suggests that Mock & Toof matters have taken a turn for the indie, after the club-ready warmth established on previous wax. Across an – overlong – 65-minute album, this proves to be largely a red herring. The 13 tracks here are rooted in electronics, pretty much without exception, but chilly, chiming guitars aren't off limits for numbers like 'Move Along'. Vocals are exclusively handled by either Pollyester or Gavin Gordon, a Glaswegian singer who is by no means a bad fit for M&T's brand of evocative silk-spinning, but who would be equally at home atop a dad-rocking indie-folk combo like Frightened Rabbit or similar.

If you wanted to be snarky, you could say that Mock & Toof aren't exactly a young person's concern as it is. I mean, these guys introduced themselves to the world with a bootleg Madonna edit and seem to be chiefly enjoyed by men in their mid-to-late thirties with well managed facial hair. In 2010, though, we should really be over the notion that dance is for ver kids; childishness can benefit it greatly, but in the right hands so can maturity. As it is, you sense it's M&T's dual experience that's responsible for this album's finest moments. Pollyester is a dream topping for the squealy keys, Malaria!-ish blank verses and vintage disco-pop refrain of 'Shoeshine Boogie'; elsewhere, most notably 'Norman's Eyes', she suggests that her plus band might even have electropop hitmaker potential in them – a Little Boots rather than Gaga-sized hit, but still something to ponder.

On top of all that, Tuning Echoes has bits of zonked out Luomo-y house, glitchy circus music, a lyrical cop of 'Sloop John B' and probably some stuff you could describe to people as Balearic if you were really pushed for time and thought their attention might wander if you took longer than three seconds. You, you got this far, so I know yer smarter than that.

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