"It was the record that you needed to complete your punk collection/ It was everything that you wanted, it was some source of affection."
Thus begins "Stowaway," the first track on Tullycraft's new record, Disenchanted Hearts Unite. Is it punk? Kind of. Is it everything that I wanted from the new Tullycraft record? Undeniably yes. Is it a source of affection? I can tell you frankly that it's a catalyst of my affections. I adore this record for its fun, for its catchiness, for the sense of summer and comfort and joy it instills in me. It's like the best toy I ever got for Christmas.
I want to write a review of Tullycraft's new album that let's you in on all the subtle nuances in their music. I want to write out in words the best parts of the record, to somehow translate the great sing-along qualities in the bah-bah's of "Rumble with Gang Debs" into just black and white text.
Permit me the stereotype of listing the band members on Disenchanted Hearts Unite. Tullycraft is: Sean Tollefson (vocals, bass, keyboards), Chris Munford (guitar, vocals, keyboards, and claps), and Jeff Fell (drums).
They also get help from Harold Hollingsworth (guitars throughout), Jen Abercrombie (vocals on "Fall 4 U" and "Building the Robot"), Taryn Webber (cello on "Polaroids from Mars" and "Fall 4 U"), Corianton Hale (vocals on "Our Days in Kansas"), and Jenny Mears (vocals throughout).
One song, "Molly's Got a Crush on Us," was even recorded live at a party. The party-goers are 15-strong right there on the record, singing along on the indie chorus, riding the wings of bar-chords and spritely keyboards: "OH! Molly's got a crush on us."
I listened to Disenchanted Hearts Unite for the first time while slinging chai lattes and cappucinos at a coffee shop in Williamsburg, VA, a stone's throw away from an academic building which still bears the marks of burns on the bricks from the time it was torched in the wars of Virginia's past.
Like watching college freshman walk nervously through the same creaking wooden hallways Thomas Jefferson walked, it seems odd to listen to a fresh indie-pop record in the middle of Colonial Williamsburg. Something seems out of place, anachronistic. Maybe it's that Tullycraft is so incredibly modern. Moreso than anything else, the collective sound of their songs — the lyrics, the simple chords, the simple keyboards — make Tullycraft more "today" than anything. It took a year before the flood of 9/11 songs came out. It takes awhile for some part of pop culture to make its way into pop songs. But Tullycraft's themes are enduring in the sense that they deal with things that happen all the time — those stories all of us have.
"Stowaway" talks about finding that perfect record, "Our Days in Kansas" is the prototypical "remember-when?" song, with the humble line, "we relied on the tricks and the recycled hooks" and then later, a very "Tullycraft" moment in singing, "Things were so much easier, back in 1993/ I loved you for the first time on that day."
"Rumble with the Gang Debs" is probably the catchiest of any Tullycraft song ever. You don't even have to remember words to sing along, but right from the start you want to be up there with Sean singing, "Baa Baa Baa Baa BaBaBaBa."
Tullycraft is the archetype of the fun side of music — their songs have a quality that seems deceptively simple. The best band your friends in high school were never in, they play songs that speak closely to the modern day, songs like, "Secretly Minnesotan," about a girl who is afraid of admitting she is from Minnesota. Listening to Tullycraft is like hanging out with your best friends after having not seen them for a year.
The day I received Disenchanted Hearts Unite, I played the 38-minute record three times during my four hour shift at the coffee shop, before changing it out — Sean, please forgive me — for the Velvet Underground. Tullycraft has a bouncy, exciting sound so pop-oriented that I don't know of a single person who won't immediately enjoy their records. The guitars are incessantly strummed in all their undistorted glory, four-chord songs that undoubtedly share their progressions with several Clash songs.
And their lyrics are smart and witty. Not smart and witty in same sense as Thom Yorke on Hail to the Thief is smart and witty, but smart and witty in the same way that their a-few-years-ago single, "Pop Songs Your New Boyfriend's Too Stupid to Know About" is. (The title itself sums up the Tullycraft songwriting niche).
Not uncommon to a lot of the Seattle-local stuff I play in the coffee shop, I had two different people ask, "Hey Joe, what's playing right now?" And I've been on a New Order kick lately. Without aligning the records too closely, Disenchanted Hearts Unite falls right in line with Power, Corruption and Lies. Although Tullycraft's records don't have pretty flowers on the cover.