Album Review | AVANT-GARDE POP

tUnE-yArDs, ‘Nikki Nack’

There's no denying that like all albums by typographers' nightmare tUnE-yArDs, “Nikki Nack” is ear candy, crammed with shards of looped instruments poking their heads above ground like skittish gophers and odd, counterintuitive vocal rhythms. Even a seemingly simple spoken-word tale like “Interlude: Why Do We Dine on the Tots?” isn’t so straightforward, using any number of recording effects to collapse, layer, and repeat the lines upon one another. But as always, the most interesting effect is Merrill Garbus’s voice. In her hands (or mouth), “Doo-doo-wah-diddy-doo” becomes as substantial a lyric as “Don’t have a penny, I look good in debt.” Unfortunately, too many songs have so much sugar-rush action, like the judder and clack of “Find a New Way,” that they fly apart. Only on “Time of Dark” does it sound like Garbus’s brain, twitching with overactivity everywhere else, is able to take a breath and state, calmly and clearly, what’s on her mind. (Out Tuesday)


ESSENTIAL “Time of Dark”

tUnE-yArDs perform at the Royale June 16.

Marc Hirsh can be reached at