Tunng - And Then We Saw Land

Mike Mantin 03/03/2010

Rating: 4/5

Tunng's fourth album sees them operating as a full five-piece band rather than simply the personal project of Mike Lindsay and the now-departed Sam Genders Thinking cynically, this could be an attempt to finally shake off the 'folktronica' tag, a tiresome label which presumably gets as much welcome as a one-star review to the bands lumped with it. But of course, that's not the case (though it might be a nice side-effect): this is a natural evolution, and it's yielded some joyous results.

'...And Then We Saw Land' is by far Tunng's most accessible work yet, its bigger scope allowing Lindsay's ear for melody to take centre stage. In 'Hustle' they have their first radio-friendly hit, a cute shuffle flavoured with banjos and African-flavoured percussion (they've clearly been taking some notes since touring with members Tinariwen last year). Elsewhere they take their trademarks of delicate fingerpicked guitar and nature imagery and apply them to their most memorable tunes yet.

But this is by no means a reluctant bid for commercial appeal. It is a shame to see a curtail of the liberal use of samples and electronics which made their earlier albums so distinctive - the bleepy refrains which make up the second half of the album will be greeted warmly by their fans - but the songwriting is stronger than ever and the fact the band has been fleshed out never compromises the songs' intimacy. There's none of the grating filler that 2007's 'Good Arrows' suffered. “Don't look down or back” sings the 15-person 'Mega Chorus' of mates on the epic track of the same name. It's a philosophy that the confident and fully-formed Tunng of this fine fourth album clearly shares.