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tUnE-yArDs: w h o k i l l

4AD

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Merrill Garbus' strikingly original 2009 debut, BiRd-BrAiNs, captivated critics and landed the songwriter a spot on a Blackberry commercial - weird, but maybe less so when you consider that beneath tUnE-yArDs' pounding drum loops and stunning, elastic vocals lies one of the keenest pop sensibilities around. The new album, w h o k i l l, follows in the trail blazed by Garbus' first album, but it's fuller and more studio-oriented. Atop the drums and ukulele now sit horns, keyboards and guitars, there to occupy many of the spaces formerly left blank. Garbus' lyrics, too, are more present and potent than ever. On the brilliant, spacious "Powa," she implores a lover, "Press me down/Before my body flies away from me." Fans of tUnE-yArDs' first album will remain impressed, while newcomers might just find an instant favorite. w h o k i l l is the sound of a wildly talented artist developing before our ears. (4 out of 5 stars)

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