Tomorrows Tulips – When

When by Tomorrows Tulips album cover
When by Tomorrows Tulips album cover

If you’ve been paying any attention to the alternative music universe, Burger Records will surely ring a bell. Founded in ‘07, Burger’s made a name for themselves this past year thanks to their extremely talented lineup of young power-poppers, glam rockers, garagers, and just plain slackers who all use their penchant for the hot California sun to their advantage. After just one listen of any of the reverb drenched, sugary and ever-so youthful albums bearing the “I’m a Burger Bud” badge, it’s clear that this label has one intention: to make rock and roll fun again. Burger’s is slowly changing rock and roll, and has chosen the perfect time to do so.

Hailing from the southern Californian coast; Tomorrows Tulips are undoubtedly one of Burger Records’ more predominant bands, and their short 3 album discography does much to prove this. Rather than adopting the high octane approach typical of many other Burger bands, they use a hazy, drony, and laid back sound. Their sophomore effort Experimental Jelly is a perfect example of this, especially LP standouts like opener “Flowers on the Wall” or the slow-building “Mr. Sun”, mellow yet head-spinning psychedelic pop songs that sound like what the Velvet Underground might have sounded like if Lou Reed was a surfer.

The group’s 3rd and most recent LP; When, shows a massive stylistic change from their previous outing, swapping the soothing reverby guitars of Experimental Jelly with fuzzy distortion, adding a violin, and dipping into various genres, recording techniques, and pop deconstructionism while still conserving the band’s sunkissed, stoned aesthetic that made them so appealing to begin with. It’s by far their most imaginative– and riskiest– record to date, but unfortunately comes to us with mixed results.

Simply put, the group tried to bite off more than they could chew. Not only do some of the stylistic changes feel unnatural, but it’s almost as if the band changed simply for the sake of changing. The best example is “Papers by the TV”, an upbeat, stripped down affair featuring only a bass, a drum, and Alex Knost’s vocals played out in an extremely post-punky style. It’s unseen in all of their previous recordings, but the final product feels uninspired and never seems to reach it’s full potential. The single “Glued to You” is the same story, a drony minimalistic track too deconstructed for it’s own good, featuring stale and unbalanced production.

The album, however, does have some high notes, like “Surplus Store” and “Confetti and Glue”, tracks which tend to follow the model set by the band’s previous effort but due to their extremely poor production, end up sounding more like poorly recorded demos rather than fully realized songs.

For a band coming off such a strong record with so much potential, it’s hugely disappointing to see them come this short from creating an honest and inspired follow-up. When has genuine potential on paper, but always seems to come short musically, whether it be due to the band’s newfound love for experimentation, uninteresting instrumentation, or awfully unflattering production. However, Tomorrows Tulips are a young and very promising band on a rapidly growing label, and this record will hopefully serve as an inevitable bump in the road rather than a model for their albums to come.

Rating: 6/10

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