Review: “When” by Tomorrows Tulips

“When,” the third LP from Costa Mesa, California-based trio Tomorrows Tulips, is a half-lidded, dry-mouthed, sedated slow dance of an album that jerks awake with startling intensity every few licks. It sounds self-assured. It sounds mature. It sounds like an album chock full of songs that are famous already.

Listeners anticipated its arrival since the pre-release of two songs: “Baby” and “Glued to You,” composed into an R-rated music video filled with eggs and half naked women. Despite their lack of yolk or scantily clad babes, the other ten tracks do not disappoint.

“When” is the band’s third album, released Oct. 4, 2014 by Burger Records.

Whether they’re strumming with sleepy retro vibes, echoing with Jeff Beck-ish guitar, or soft, breathy vocals, “When” demands your undivided attention.

While the lyrics may seem cold and numb – “When can I be happy again?” “You can’t understand/how hard it is to be a man/until you’re broken, like I am” – no song is a downer, not even a bummer.

“When” is not a “looser rock” [sic] anthem, as one eager YouTuber commented. It’s the sound of every feeling, a gallery of emotion.

I sat down with frontman Alex Knost – at our computer screens, across countries – for an exclusive look at the making of “When” during the band’s Australian tour.

 

Carpe Diem: What’s “When” sound like, compared to “Experimental Jelly” and “Eternally Teenage”?

Alex Knost: Grease, more lush, less hiss, more drums and low end.

CD: “Baby” and “Glued to You” make for a pretty sick music video. What was that like to make?

AK: Awkwardly erotic.

CD: Who or what influenced you the most in making this record?

AK: Matt McCluer, Guided by Voices, Ford [Archbold, bassist], touring, Molly, San Francisco, failed relationship, new drummer.

CD: Your music’s been categorized as many things: low-fi, tired, indie-surfer loser rock by Iggy Pop lookalikes that totally transports you to a coastal California night, etc. But how would you describe it?

AK: Refreshing, acute, subtle.

CD: What’s your favorite of the new songs?

AK: “Glued to You,” for the song, the restraint, and production, the Down Turned Self Pity. It’s vulnerability. I was almost embarrassed about it. I recorded it on my phone at a low point. Ford made me put it on [the album]. Glad I did; it’s honest. And “When.” It was a new song, a first take, and has great tones and vibe.

Serious music lovers need to check out this album, out now on Burger Records. If not now, “When”?

 

Listen to “Glued to You” here.

Listen to “Baby” here.