Article by KevW
The Black Tambourines are arguably the leading lights of the revived Cornish music scene that's grown up around Falmouth, thanks in part to the expansion of the college in the town. Now onto their second album, Freedom, the quartet sound as crispy fresh as they did to begin with; you'll find no hints of second album syndrome here. With a jagged and energetic garage-rock sound, it would be easy to believe they were part of the much larger but similar in style scene that exists on the west-coast of America, not the west-coast of England, but they're capable of matching the likes of Ty Segall or White Fence, and they have that same psychedelic edge on certain tracks too, not to mention a little surf.
It's pretty much pure garage that gets 'Freedom' off to a bristling and energetic start though, with the punky 'I Wanna Stay' riding the crest of a lo-fi wave and adding some nice splashes of lead guitar, and it's is quickly followed by the Velvets-on-speed buzz of 'Punk Simon'. Later on, 'No Action' brings in pure punk filth and quickly follows that with the nitrous oxide injected 'John Locke (Lost)', which, judging by the lyrics, is about the TV show rather than the philosopher. This is bracing stuff. Cornwall is the surfing capital of the UK, and you could say the same about California in the US, so it seems right that when they bring in twangy surf guitars it's on the excellent, slightly frazzled 'LA'. A similar sound is used for 'Look Down'. The surging 'Sister', with its ace drum intro, is another that slams garage and surf together but in a more ragged and scuzzed-up way.
When they do slow the tempo, it's not often by much and the same vigour is there. The raw and crunchy riff to 'She Don't Mind' (which has a simple but great guitar solo) could be from the New York punk scene of the mid-'70s and overall it's an album highlight. 'Namaste' does a similar thing, but this time takes a bit of inspiration from '90s alt-rock, yet the band keep everything cohesive enough that the effect is welcome diversity and not any awkward fragmentation. As you may expect, 'Cool Down', the second to last track on the record, is the most chilled but is certainly no lull, it simply gives you a moment to get your breath back before the DIY powerhouse of 'Ride Hard Crash Hard' takes us out with a touch of reverb, plenty of buzzing guitars and a little bit of garage, surf and psych, rounding up 'Freedom' perfectly. There's no filler to be found, and everything is done and dusted in just over half an hour. Really, you wouldn't want them any other way.
The Black Tambourines' website
Buy the album
The Sound Of Confusion on Twitter and Facebook