Tune-Yards – I can feel you creep into my private life Album Review

Story posted January 23, 2018 in Arts & Entertainment, CommRadio by By Jenna Minnig

Tune-Yards’s lead singer, Merrill Garbus, journeys through self-realization, personal guilt, but mostly self-pity on the band’s latest record I can feel you creep into my private life. Through lyrics that explore a white cisgender woman’s advantages in a discriminating society, Garbus comes to terms with her shame over the duration of 12 songs. While the duo remains faithful to their indie-pop production, the emotional content on this album makes it a difficult piece to enjoy as a whole with its sharp focus on serious social issues, specifically ones regarding racism, without offering a fresh perspective.

Garbus addresses her white privilege in an extremely personal manner through the tracks on this record. While the current political climate has influenced many artists to use their music to acknowledge societal problems, Garbus brings light to these issues in the context of the indie-pop scene. Although her personal viewpoint is important and significant, she fails to explore outside the realms of her own guilt, not offering any reasoning behind her behavior and consequential results.

“Colonizer” is the most notable track on the record where Garbus touches on her shame when she sings “I use my white woman's voice to tell stories of troubles with African men.” Garbus’ sinister vocal delivery works perfectly to project the subject matter that revolves around white framing of minority issues. This is especially important in a genre of music with very little diversity. But despite these straightforward lyrics, Garbus fails to provide listeners with further context on the issue. It feels as though she used this album as a way to vent all of her shame and guilt, and leave it at that, without educating listeners or giving them a fresh perspective on the situation. 

This would work fine if the listener was given some sense of personal growth in Garbus, but the album is filled entirely with guilt and disgrace from a white woman who feels sorry for her social standing in society. On first listen, it is an album with lively production and an empowering sense of bringing awareness to a social concern. On the second listen, third and every listen after that, it seems as though Garbus just tears herself apart on each and every track. It is understandable that she feels remorse in her position, but it’s difficult to merit an album whose artistic purpose is simply to acknowledge a problem rather provide something new to the discussion around that problem.

Despite its powerful yet redundant social messages, I can feel you creep into my private life is an upbeat album. Nate Brenner is the mastermind behind the prominently catchy beats. Although his technique with rhythm on this release is neither significant nor noteworthy when referring to the band’s previous work on their energetic 2014 release nikki nack, it is nevertheless filled with dance tracks and a focus on uplifting rhythms that make Tune-Yards unique. Garbus further builds on the album’s focus on rhythm in a unique manner by using vocal repetition on tracks such as “Heart Attack” to craft the songs beat.

On their first full-length album in four years, Tune-Yards set out on a mission to bring awareness to a pressing matter through extremely personal lyrics that examine a white woman’s responsibility regarding the modern day issue of racism. What the band created instead is a series of tracks filled with guilt and self-pity without ever attempting to look deeper into that guilt beyond the surface level, and feeling shameful rather than actually providing a distinct and needed perspective on the problems they sing about.

Rating: 6/10

Jenna Minnig is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact her, email at jkm5756@psu.edu.