Helpfully describing his album as “lo-fi trip hop style electronica”, listening to Tucker Grindstaff’s ‘Bookmarks’ is like hearing a throwback to those times when bedroom studio musicians didn’t have the facilities to make their songs sound hi-fi. Grindstaff may not be a Babybird or Ariel Pink just yet but this debut has much to recommend it.
‘Edge Of Earth’ introduces us to the artist’s moody bedroom trip-hop. Grindstaff doesn’t sing at this point but he doesn’t need to as the track’s gloomy atmosphere is characterised by an attractive combination of meandering guitar lines and an assortment of clicks and beats. Then when he does sing it’s often little more than a murmur but this actually suits the understated, subdued arrangements and sense of isolation. At its best, the slacker hip hop feel of ‘Separated Cables’ suggests Beck Hansen is working on a tight budget, there’s also the deliciously subdued melancholy of the title track, the charming warped folk of ‘Girl From Encinitas’ or the relatively bouncy electronica of ‘Birds’.
Whether there’s quite enough of the good stuff to sustain interest for the full fifty minutes is debatable. This is bedroom-recorded pop and makes no effort to come across as anything more grand. Yet amidst the low-key arrangements, there’s some surprisingly effective songwriting here and Grindstaff clearly has a knack for a doleful instrumental too.
Beck, Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti, Babybird