Despite new album The Railway Prince Hotel being their seventh, US indie popsters Tullycraft has been a name rather than musical presence on our radar here and it has pretty much been the same with global recognition and attention. It is an outfit though which is said to have been “one of the forefathers of the American twee pop movement”, indeed one of the biggest influences on so many bands emerging over recent times within the indie pop underground and beyond. On the evidence of their new offering it just might be the time they themselves step out into the biggest spotlights as The Railway Prince Hotel is simply one irresistible slice of cute pop contagion.
Tullycraft emerged back in 1995 and a swift hindsight listen in the wake of The Railway Prince Hotel shows they have been the source of a host of delicious pop songs and releases which reveal why they have been a potent inspiration to so many. The new album though is a new twist in their songwriting and sound, a collection of hungrily lively pop songs with their own individual bounce and mischief to what has come before. The riveting union of lead vocals from bassist Sean Tollefson and Jenny Mears is one of the most potent lures to the Seattle band’s music but no more so than the instinctive hooks and radiant melodies which tease and inspire attention. Listening to their new release we quickly found ourselves thinking back to the organic and viral pop of seventies/eighties bands like The Freshies, The Farmers Boys and to a slightly lesser degree Weekend and The Chefs; alluring and no doubt coincidental tinges in the openly individual character of the Tullycraft sound.
It is fair to say that The Railway Prince Hotel had us hooked and licking lips with simply its first three tracks; songs which no matter what was to follow ensured our full recommendation was lining up. Midi Midinette starts things off, its summery flames of brass and energetic bounce instantly burrowing deep as too the rising union of harmonic vocal lures. Soulful and whimsical in all the right ways, the song provides a joyous stroll which hips and vocal chords just could not resist, both soon manipulated to matching effort by the following pair of Passing Observations and We Couldn’t Dance To Billy Joel.
From its opening bait of bass, the first of the pair had the body swinging; its temptation instantly escalated by the vocal collaboration of Mears and band around Tollefson‘s lone and as potent lines. The guitars of Chris Munford and Corianton Hale again almost tease as they melodically entice but it is Mear’s melodic cries which made for the greatest seduction in a song and particularly chorus which made for increasingly mischievous aural manna. Its successor with its jovial jangle and frisky rhythms allowed for no relaxation of feet and body swerves, its flirtatious vocals and melodies a pleasing mix of comforting warmth and playful unpredictability.
Goldie And The Gingerbreads is next up sharing another bassline which just hooked the appetite. From there the skittish beats and coy but bold melodic clang of guitar escalated its hold on ears while harmonies suggest the echoing lures of bands such as The Shangri-Las and The Crystals make a natural pleasure for the band itself.
We could not say that either Has Your Boyfriend Lost His Flavor On The Bedpost Overnight? or Beginners At Best quite sparked the same unreserved reactions of their predecessors but both with their particular creative essences and enterprise left us bouncing along with a wholly satisfied smile while It’s Not Explained, It’s Delaware with its reserved country twang brought its own healthy amount of and easy to take pleasure.
The brief electro pop saunter of Lost Our Friends To Heavy Metal was another which took longer to take too even if hips unapologetically defied that sloth like appreciation while Hearts At The Sound straight after ignited another round of eager bouncing with its rowdier pop ‘n’ roll before The Cat’s Miaow In A Spacesuit had us hooked with its bass swing alone, closing the trap with vocal and melody erudition. The latter pair emerged to test the opening threesome for best song honours, a choice never settled on even through numerous listens.
The album closes out with firstly its title track, a spirited influential proposal lying somewhere between old school pop punk/power pop and brass flamed indie rock and lastly the carefree pop rock stroll of Vacaville. Each leaves a greed for more behind with the final treat another vying for the album’s finest moment.
We can only feel we have missed out on years of enjoyment listening to Tullycraft but as we feel sure so many more newcomers will do, we are making up for it with The Railway Prince Hotel, one of the year’s early and real pleasures.
The Railway Prince Hotel is out now @ https://tullycraft.bandcamp.com/album/the-railway-prince-hotel and available on vinyl via HHBTM Records.
Pete RingMaster 12/02/2019
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