The songs on TarFeathers’ Make Way for the Ocean Floor to Fall to the Surface hold dense layers and shifting focuses and have a liveliness that overcomes the thick darkness the music treads through. The music takes threads from early K Records bands such as the more spastic, less polished Modest Mouse and the Microphones; draws some of the awkward energy from early Pavement; infuses a touch of The Head on the Door-era Cure ornamentations; and shares a similar sound to that of Wolf Parade and the Arcade Fire.
The mostly one-man-band is focused on Gothenburg, Sweden’s Marcus Nyke, who gets support from Simon Stalhamre (I Am the Sanctuary), Pal Olovsson (Close Your Eyes and Think of England) and Morten Billeskalns (Chronic Heist/ex-JR Ewing). Production was also handled by Stalhamre, recording the songs in an attic of an island home off the Swedish eastern coast last winter and finishing them in Stockholm earlier this year. The lo-fi but rich production adds a depth to the album, leaving us unable to properly label the music or file it away with any confidence. This record could have easily come out in the mid-’90s alongside Pavement’s Crooked Rain Crooked Rain or in the beginning of this century alongside Modest Mouse’s The Moon And The Antarctic. This uncertainty gives TarFeathers the ability to be both dynamic and nostalgic.
Make Way for the Ocean Floor to Fall to the Surface feels like a record of endurance, instilled with the dark irony and alcohol-induced energy that you need in order to survive the cold, dark Swedish winters. The line, “Anyone can make mistakes — so can I,” from “Counting Sheep” is sung with so many shadows that when the final minutes of the song finds Nyke singing, “I sure know how to get dead drunk every weekend with nothing in particular going through my head,” we feel that desperate need for escapism, remember those corners that we’ve been backed into at least a few times.
The standouts are “Verse Chorus Verse Chorus Verse” and “You Are Lucky to Have Nothing,” bringing to a peak everything that makes the album such a forceful effort. Nyke’s mournful tones splinter above the driving percussion, bass and stringy guitar lines, building to solid and darkly energetic climaxes. A number of other songs would hold up just as well to scrutiny.
Make Way for the Ocean Floor to Fall to the Surface was initially supposed to be an EP, but it grew out of Nyke’s control into a full-length. As an examination of indie-awkwardness (from the mid-’80s to recent bands such as Clap Your Hands Say Yeah!, the album succeeds on many levels but thrives in its ability to combine international influences with originality.
Streaming Audio: http://www.myspace.com/tarfeathers