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The Tamborines – What Took You So Long / The Great Division (Decadentt Records)

Ah! the tambourine (hey, note the spelling there) -icon of old skool indie. I used to draw tambourines on my school books and pencil case and stuff, to express my admiration for all things jangley.


There’s that great photo (to be found in the Kitten P kitchen, interiors fans) of Andy Warhol holding a tambourine up to frame his fringe’n’shades face, an image Bobby Gillespie apes at the end of the ‘Never Understand’ video. Sha La La fanzine had a tambourine as their logo. There was even a wee article in The Face about ‘tambourine bands’ and Splash #1 in Glasgow where they played and how tambourines were punk rock ‘cos anyone could leap onstage and bash one. Primal Scream had Martin St John, their very own leather-glove clad tambourine man. My friend K treasured a piece of tambourine that flew off stage during a particularly frenetic Bobby Scarlett gig. The oddball mixture of school music room div instrument and easy rock and roll accessory makes the tambourine a potent indie signifier.

And so to The Tamborines, who we learn were originally a folk band. This could be seen as unfortunate as folk is quite the fashionable thing at the mo, but it’s okay because apparently The Tamborines ‘would like to be known as an out-of-time band’. I’m assuming this means ‘not of this time’ or possibly even ‘timeless’ rather than not able to hold down a rhythm, but who knows, they’re quite mysterious.

The two songs here summon up memories of late 80s indie pop bands. The sort of group you’d find on a Woosh! fanzine flexi, maybe; one of the squillions of Byrds-tinged, Edwyn-fringed beat groups that emerged after the initial C86 wave. There’s the plaintive reedy vocal of early Primal Scream and a rippling, humming undertone of organ that gives the whole shebang a fine Sea Urchins twist. The songs spangle along cutely enough and then hit unexpected heart-flip chords that make you go “Hey! Pop! Yeah!” ‘What Took You So Long’ propels itself from a big boomy opening drumbeat and then scuds along on a pleasing chiming, chugging guitar sound. There’s a nice sleepy-eyed languor to this though, a hazy wistfulnes, and you know why? It's 'cos underneath the shiney jangle exterior, The Tamborines have got this whole dreampop thing going on, as evidenced by b-side 'The Great Division' which shimmers itself dreamily into a swoopy ‘Hey ho’ chorus that makes you feel like you’ve driven over a hump-backed bridge. Then the whole caboodle gently freaks the fuzz right out. Hear the lazy daisy vocals about 'here she comes into my dreams'. Hear the early Charlatans wiggily liquid organ. Hear the sneaky screechy guitar scrawling underneath. And hark! hear that tambourine rattle.

RRRG: Caffeine malaria tangle

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