Editors' pick

Zulu Pearls, the Tender Thrill, More Humans

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Editorial Review

THE TENDER THRILL
Album review: "The Tender Thrill"
By Mark Jenkins
Friday, July 27, 2012

Alt-rockers these days tend to be tricky, employing odd time changes or raiding the band-room closet for exotic instruments. The Tender Thrill doesn’t use such gambits, but its self-titled debut sounds contemporary nonetheless. The trio, whose members live in Arlington and Baltimore, rely on such standard garage-rock ingredients as surging organ and twangy guitar. Yet tunes such as “It’s Alright” are less golden-oldie than their titles suggest.

The album opens with a bold move: “All Night” runs 10 minutes, as if the band is prepared to chug and sway till dawn. If none of the other tracks last that long, few qualify as short, and all move at a measured pace. There’s a woozy “stoner rock” element to the Thrill’s sound, but within the implacable drones are kernels of ’50s rock-and-roll that keep even the longest, slowest tracks from being ponderous.

Also classic are singer Brian Faust’s concerns. His lyrics are layered toward the middle of the mix, but when the lines are audible, they’re often about affairs of the post-adolescent heart. Using a Bo Diddley beat to celebrate the likes of “Geena” and “Katy P,” the Tender Thrill sounds not retrograde but nearly timeless.