From the opening bars of Suicidal Bunny, the first track on Taffy’s new EP Darkle, the influences by any number of 90s bands (they’ve been compared to The Breeders amongst others, and not unduly) is apparent. Not in that Doc Martens and Sassy Magazine consciously retro approach so many bands are taking as of late, but in a let’s take this guitar sound and overlay it with, well, a few pedals, but our own energy. They know their predecessors as well as their own pop leanings; the result is as sweet as their name might suggest and never strays to cloying.
There’s not a bad track on the album; they keep it concise and not a moment lags. Some of the songs are longer but mitigate nicely the tension between live versions tending to improvisations and recordings left too bare and ready for embellishment. Young Tines stands as an especially resplendent example; the steady drumming, the guitars allowed feedback and moments outside those seemingly proscribed in their times, the vocals floating atop ethereal and decisive. They’re noisy, they’re lush, but they’re less concerned with creating sonic landscapes apart from form than enamored of pop explored on such a plane.
There’s a sense of humor evidenced by titles like Suicidal Bunny and that cover of Happy Birthday they call HBD. One could write it off as some stereotypically ‘wacky Japan’ thing, but that would be reductive at best and ignore their McCartneyesque knack for fitting text to well-crafted melodies regardless of implication or coherence. They’re not going for cutesy and the lyrics are less nonsensical than vocal vehicles. HBD celebrates the universality of its source as well as its ability to be adapted. English may be their second language, but they are native speakers of pop.
Lest you need more endorsement, the EP closes with a remix of Young Tines by The Brian Jonestown Massacre. It gets a little darker, a little closer to The Raveonettes sound on Lust Lust Lust, and highlights those vocals and drums in a way not quite isolating but mesmerizing.