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When Tamaryn released her debut record, 2010's The Waves, she found herself quickly pigeonholed amongst the shoegaze revivalists. Here was an album of whirring guitars, and a vocal performance that was more about conveying an atmosphere than any distinct meaning - it's safe to say that it wore its influences proudly. Whilst there was a lot to like about the record, it felt like many weren't really digging deep, instead taking it at a purely superficial level. 2012 saw the release of Tender New Signs, an album which took the sonic template Tamaryn had set a step further. Now, three years later she returns with Cranekiss, an album that feels distinctly removed from its predecessors.

Things are different from the off, with a big '80s drum fill introducing the record and the guitars softened to a purr. Tamaryn's vocals begin with the same indistinct breathlessness that characterised her earlier records, but quickly sharpen into focus for the chorus. The album's title track is bigger and brighter than anything we've heard from the artist before and it's clear that this is a significant step. Unlike its predecessors Cranekiss is an album that wants its moment in the spotlight, it refuses to be ethereal backing.

Lead single 'Hands All Over Me' exemplifies this best, with a euphoric synth lead and a huge power-rock chorus opening the track. As the song progresses we're introduced to galloping bass synthesiser, warm guitar chords and glistening chimes. Whilst Tender New Signs and The Waves were content to present barren shoegaze soundscapes, 'Hands All Over Me' is unabashedly pop. Its chorus goes all in on a fun sing-a-long hook and the backing is richly detailed, with plenty to tempt the ear. An extended outro marrying roaring guitar, chimes and sampled percussion reminds us of Tamaryn's sonic foundations, whilst providing an atmospheric finale.

The video which accompanies 'Hands All Over Me' takes place in a neon-soaked peep show, yet the music eliminates any sense of sleaze. Tamaryn's chorus refrain of "put your hands all over me / do everything I like" puts the desire on the female protagonist, whilst the verses make clear that they see no need to change for others. They are in control throughout.

Desire plays throughout the record, the most obvious example being 'Softcore', a track that's somewhat darker in tone than the rest of the record. The guitars are brought to the fore, underscored by distant, melancholic synth chimes and Tamaryn's voice becomes a deeper whisper. Atmospheric chords ring out over a chorus of sampled female orgasms. "And you will never be alone," promises Tamaryn in the song's bridge.

The other thing that's noticeable on Cranekiss is the greater focus on vocals. With Tamaryn no longer buried under a thick fog of guitars, she's able to step forward and show what she's capable of, not just in terms of delivery, but also songwriting. 'Softcore' and 'Hands All Over Me' are probably Tamaryn's most direct tracks, with the singer imbuing her other songs with a whole new ambiguity through opaque imagery. 'Fade Away Slow', one of the album's highlights is a great example of it. Amidst a dark, swagger of bass and guitar, Tamaryn's vocal soars like a bird in flight. The lyrics which reference common nightmares (teeth falling out) hint at a sinister edge that's been absent throughout the record. The song's guttural roar is probably the closest to Tamaryn's earlier work, whilst the slow guitar riff that plays out through the chorus adds a mournful undercurrent.

This all stands in stark contrast to the appropriately syrupy rock of 'Sugar Fix', which sits just a track away. In fact the second half of Cranekiss really shows how versatile Tamaryn can be, with the ethereal, M83 vibes of 'I Won't Be Found' sitting between 'Fade Away Slow' and 'Sugar Fix'. That latter track, with its jubilant acoustic guitar and bright electric guitar lines, has a wonderfully autumnal tone to it. It might alienate those that are more used to the previous two records, but it also shows an innate understanding of how to craft a wonderfully evocative pop song, with a foot-tapping backing and a catchy, melancholic hook.

Whilst it's a rather bold step forward for Tamaryn, and brave to ditch a sound that she'd perfected, there is still a strong sense of her influences throughout. The Cocteau Twins loom large over this record, but Tamaryn seems to be aware of this, with the album's production providing a nostalgic sense to the record. Vocals are multi-tracked and percussion sounds like it was dragged straight out of the late '80s, it doesn't really revolutionise the sound, but then it feels like that wasn't what the band was aiming for. The album really excels though in its second half, with the tracks mentioned above being essential. However, this doesn't mean the first half is any less interesting or indeed fun. Cranekiss is a carefully crafted and wonderfully written record and beyond that it marks a new, exciting step in Tamaryn's career.

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