Independent release, 2019

REVIEW BY: Vish Iyer


On this debut full-length release, Brooklyn-based duo TMBOY sounds like a reincarnation of the highly eccentric defunct Swedish electronic music duo The Knife. Now, anyone who is familiar with The Knife, would agree that imitating this group is literally impossible because of how unique their music is. Their musical and vocal capability is required to create anything that has their DNA in it. While my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Steam has some obvious resemblances to The Knife, it does not mean that TMBOY is imitators. On the contrary, this comparison is a compliment to what Sarah Aument and Will Shore have accomplished here.

Steam is a hard-driving electronic music record with mean synths and high energy. “Held Under” and “Focus” are powerful electro-pop tunes, superbly combining pop music catchiness with aggressive synthesizer sounds. On the experimental side, the complex and cool percussions predominant throughout the album – especially on “Hands,” “Submarine,” and “No One” –seem like amplified sounds from hitting pots and pans. They add a naturalistic touch to the robotic synth music (a move, straight out of The Knife playbook, which the duo executes beautifully!).

Between the quirkiness of Shore’s percussions and Aument’s vocals, there is an undeniable earthy feel looming over the album’s chic electro numbers. “Zephyr” is a shining example of this, with its earthiness even spilling onto its lyrics: “Feet in the soil / We’re running together / Skin, wind and grain.” Aument’s playful yet powerful vocals and singing style has a lot in common with The Knife’s Karin Dreijer. Her peculiar singing with a childlike innocence is unusual, but perfect for this disc’s unconventional compositions.

Steam has enough stylistic similarities to warrant comparison with The Knife, one of the most groundbreaking but strange electronic bands ever. However, TMBOY’s sharp pop music awareness makes it very clear that Aument and Shore are here to forge their own path. This release is not as weird as any Knife record, and it certainly doesn’t aspire to be like one either.

Rating: B+

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