by Abigail Miglorie (@abigailmiglorie)
Chicago’s power duo Tinkerbelles unveil Confetti at the Bottom a sludgy, heavy, 12-track LP emulating a psych tinge that is both enthralling and perplexing, relying on ominous riffs and cloudy distortion. This marks the band’s second release (first full length) since 2014, and both guitarist Adam Mohundro and drummer Christian Dawson pair their vocals together to drag you through the twinkling light and ever falling darkness they seem to elicit with their staple sound of loud grime and post-punk mud.
The album breathes something of grunge and askew metal, perhaps shining a light on personal heavy and light moments that are not entirely clear, making you fall and mesh with the blended distortion that thematically bounces from track to track.
Indeed, the album’s opening track “Ode to the Longman” is very much what the title spits, covered with lo-fi, hazy, ultra-experimental and water downed vocals that are loosely and both tightly put together with a loud, blank, ear-wrestling noise that makes the song something of loud truth. The lyrics paint a backwards countdown of what sounds like, “Seven drinks later you’re feelin’ alright/ Six drinks later and you’re feelin’ alright / Five drinks later and you’re feelin’ alright” and continues to the final countdown, and when the brink happens, an opening abyss of loud sludge comes plowing through, just like an ode to the inner sludge that glides within the inside of our soul that we all seem to feel and succumb to and on occasion, fall with.
But the following tracks seem to hold and withstand the thematic ode of heaviness the album spews. “Spit on my Grave” seems to distort even heavier moments on a heavy, muddy riff paired with lo-fi, emo vocals that tell a tale of a vagabond never having settled. The song polarizes this dynamic of hanging in the air without knowing how to be grounded, an easy transition into the album’s “Cannibal Tokyo Rainbow” that keeps the album afloat in the air with the gloomy and heavy clouds. Here the music speaks, and even the drum lines and butterfly, poppy notes seem to make the duo’s warping lyrics even more altered, keeping the Tinkerbelles fluttering between heavy and intricate junctures.
Although the album’s utmost heavy “To Jack and June (on your wedding day)” sustains the narrative of ultimate sludge rock with the seemingly loaded and tight bass line repetitions, it isn’t until “Tunnel Vision” we receive the duo’s vocal capacity at full strength. It’s like a burst through the doors.
You enter the personal distortion with Muhundro and Dawson amidst those up-key, high-pitch punk vocals that hammer those intricate progressions to create something of a heavy bliss. It’s an easy transition into “29 Palms (Dairy Queen to Vegas)” and “Corpora Nigra” that rely on those engrossing riffs and bleared vocals to reflect the goopy sentiment the album carries. In fact, the album reaches its apex of distorted grime after “Italian Ninja” and “Valhalla ‘81” when we are faced with once more unclear hallucinations in the previously released “Ashtrays to Graceland.” It’s not entirely clear what the duo is singing about or what they mean: humming catchy phrases like “singing like a cocoa-puff” or something regarding shelf walls and even tabletop dancing.
It’s as if Tinkerbelles are calling you out to feel something otherworldly and unknown through these hallucinogenic and almost barbaric moments of hardcore goo that glops from song to song. They leave you wanting some alleviation from the heavy pressure that falls with their gnawing chord progressions and experimental distortion, just as we sometimes crave from the captivating loud and foggy moments life lugs.