01 October 2021 (released)
26 November 2021
Bedroom pop meets earnest indie horns and intricate vocal production on the latest album from Calgary, Alberta's Tawni Bias. The project led by multi-instrumentalist frontman TJ Elkin grabs you by the heart strings with an emotional falsetto that morphs and transmutes in all manner of effected vocal layers. Some with subtle harmonizations and vocoder ripples, others with the kitchen sink approach of modern pop. It's as if Bon Iver was scored by Beirut and mixed by Tiësto.
Like an orchestra tune-up of sorts, the album begins with a gathering of voices. In 'Admonition's brief 30 seconds, we hear horns, acoustic guitar, and an aura of wispy voices slowly finding the notes and coalescing into a focussed melody. A seamless transition brings in 'Two Poodles and Cake' with that melancholic joy vibe that Beirut exploited to great effect. Elkin's voice comes and goes like errant cross breezes. The synthesized elements are used extremely organically making for a warm flowing piece that feels like home. Matty Bedrosian co-produces and adds propulsive drums that arrive at the mid-way point for a smooth lift-off.
'Flare Intropin' tumbles in on loosely strummed minor chords. The haunting score drops out to focus on dipping, uneasy vocal effects and the shing of a lone guitar string. A well-crafted melding of effects and live instrumentation. Later in the album, the glossy pop over-production gets a little out of hand on tracks like 'Gossamer' and 'Homily' which take you out of the indiepop spell. Style takes over substance.
SEL Fellow for the most part straddles the line between indie and produced vocal pop well. At times blending it to great effect but on occasion losing out to the negative tropes of modern production. At the core is real emotion though, and that's what holds the piece together.