Tamaryn, Tender New Signs

Laura Studarus

By Laura Studarus

on 10.16.12 in Reviews

Tender New Signs


Tamaryn’s Tender New Signs is a middle-of-the-night meditation on love and its constant companion, heartbreak. Titular frontwoman Tamaryn curates her band’s after-hours malaise with a breathy murmur, guitarist Rex John Shelverton supporting her efforts through a fuzzed-out wall of guitars. Playing like the nebulous thought patterns that occur between the time the head hits the pillow and the brain finally calls it a day, their desolate shoegaze is a place where fantasies and nightmares lay side-by-side.

A notable widescreen meditation on the darker side of life, love, and the great beyond

The San Francisco duo’s nine-song cycle hinges on a Creation Records-worthy palette. It would be deceptively easy to use The Jesus and Mary Chain to describe their sound: Like the Scottish quintet, Tamaryn have a penchant for detached vocals and heart-on-sleeve songs that often come within hair’s breadth of mope. But Tender New Signs is a far lusher affair than any Reid brothers’ record – its “Just Like Honey” emotional leanings tempered with a large helping of quiet contemplation.

The pair lingers in a stage of lackadaisical bliss on “Afterlight,” Tamaryn repeating the Goth poetry refrain, “Wilted is the flower” as though caught somewhere between comfort and curse. “I’m Gone” breathes air into their delicate underwater grooves, its lush reverb streaked with a Mazzy Star-by-moonlight doomed romanticism. But for all their philosophical meandering (with the help of pathetic fallacy, the earth, sky – and everything in between – is given emotional weight), Tamaryn are obstinately rockers. Luxuriating in the ghostly refrains and hypnotic riffs of “Prizma” that seemingly from here until daybreak, the band doesn’t simply catch listeners’ ears – it commands them. A notable widescreen meditation on the darker side of life, love, and the great beyond.