Little Tybee | Building a Bomb (s/r)

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cd_little-tybee.gifLittle Tybee plays mostly acoustic Americana with bass, violin and piano.

When the temperature outside begins to drop and fall winds down into a bitter winter, it's nice to settle in by the fire with some quiet, relaxing folk music. Despite its name, Atlanta-based quintet Little Tybee's first full album, Building a Bomb, fits that bill especially well. Little Tybee plays mostly acoustic Americana with bass, violin and piano. Lead singer Brock Scott croons in a fluent tenor that flows seamlessly into falsetto, similar to the silky vocals and American folk bent of Bon Iver and Fleet Foxes. His voice is buoyed by a bouncy bassline and especially the lilting violin, which gives this outfit its most distinctive moments. The acoustic instruments are also occasionally accompanied by subtle synth accoutrements that put the music in a more contemporary context.

The album starts off with the title track, giving off an upbeat mood underscored by pattering bongos that give the song a feel that falls between tropical and French bossa nova. "Orchard" is a dreamy, lilting waltz that drops fitting lines contradictory: "Don't look at me that way/ you know I don't like it/ Look at me that way/ you know that I like it." The words also form an unexpected bit of syncopation.

The band is at its best when adding modern production trimmings to its music. "Hearing Blue" uses a skittering electric guitar to liven its happy melody, while "Fallen Bird" and "Glass Brigade" use synth percussion to underline some perfect pop songs, not unlike a Decemberists or Shins track, with different vocals.

The album does get tiresome in places. Especially near the end, the songs can feel same-y, a particularly dangerous pitfall on an album filled completely with light, quiet songs. "I Wonder Which House the Fish Will Live In," smack in the middle of the album, features some well-written lyrics that get lost in the lethargy, as the song never moves far enough away from the drowsy template of mannered middle-of-the-road folk. "Cemetery Leaves" bleeds into the final track "Dear Emily" to make an uninspired denouement which might, however, ensure that the listener is soundly and comfortably asleep before it ends.

Also, though it may be beside the point, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the packaging, which is some of the most artful I've seen. Each CD is packed in a hand-printed, -cut and -glued packaging that folds together to form some beautifully illustrated drawings of people performing the title action.

Though it can turn into sonic wallpaper when it gets shapeless, Little Tybee's Building a Bomb is a great record to relax to, letting its soothing acoustic balm wash over you, infusing some much-needed warmth into the coming winter. B+ | Kurt Klopmeier

RIYL: Bon Iver, Fleet Foxes


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