Monday, February 6, 2017

Love, Unlove: This by Tammy

Brooklyn duo Tammy bill themselves as a 'sex folk' band, but if you're looking for songs about throbbing members, quivering womanhoods and screaming orgasms, you'll have to look elsewhere. Tammy tell the stories either side of the sexual encounters; they sing the moments leading up to sex and the moments that come afterwards.

For an example of the former, check out the excellent Hated It (With You) from their debut album This.

Lead singer Brooke lends her voice to a variety of different characters over the course of This's brief 25-minute runtime. In Hated It, she's a woman walking out on her "horrible" partner in a new dress and a pair of pink shoes, the implication presumably being that she's heading down to a bar to get laid by someone else.

On the other side of climax we find Lullaby, a song that rolls along with the gentle turbulence of the tide and sounds like a well-appointed bedroom in a luxury apartment that overlooks the sea. As Lullaby unfolds, it calls to mind a pair of sweat-glazed lovers lying in bed together after a passionate lovemaking session and gradually slipping into a deep, satisfying post-coital slumber.

It's hard to say for certain whether Brooke and Aaron, the two halves of the Tammy locket, are themselves an item. Female-led music/culture website Audiofemme asked them about this in a Q&A published back in December, but they refrained from giving a straight answer:
AF: We MUST ask: are you guys a couple? I can’t tell because a lot of your songs are about toxic relationships. 
Aaron: We love each other.
Brooke: Very much.
It seems like the two of them want the exact nature of their relationship to remain a mystery; it could certainly go either way when their songs are the only evidence available. If they only love each other as friends, then their chemistry as a duo is quite remarkable - just check out the intertwining vocals on album highlight Doing Something Right, which sounds like a forgotten classic from some bygone golden age of chanteuses and bluesmen:

On the other hand, if they are a couple, perhaps the more remarkable thing is Brooke and Aaron's talent for writing songs about the sour side of love. Besides the relationship-nuking Hated It, there are two downtempo songs towards the end of the album that capture rather perfectly the melancholy feeling of watching your romantic connection with somebody decay like old rope. First there's Away for the Weekend, in which Brooke yearns for an escape from her stale relationship - an escape into the arms of someone else, perhaps. This sighing number is followed by the more intense ache of To- Alone, a break-up letter set gorgeously to music.

In this way, Tammy - rather than simply singing about sex - paint a far more complete picture of the stuff that happens around and in between each roll in the hay. With its laid-back country/folk sound, This is a lovely rainy-day listen, but it's also a very nice, nuanced portrait of all the highs and lows that can occur when two people hook up.

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