Tallies are a dream pop outfit who know their influences. On their second full-length, Patina, the Toronto five-piece spin original crystalline confections from the best moments across a wide catalog: everyone from the Cranberries to the Smiths to Aztec Camera to the Cocteau Twins. Their self-titled debut in 2019 was a confident start, but the band upped an echelon when one of their biggest musical heroes, ex-Cocteau Twins bassist Simon Raymonde, actually signed them to Bella Union.
Enter their second LP, Patina. The record shows a stunning range: sometimes the Tallies keep things hazy and airy, sometimes they wax tragic about thwarted love, and sometimes their watery atmospherics alone express a danceable melancholy. Lead singer Sarah Cogan’s voice is so and ethereal, but it cuts through the wash with authority. “I don’t want to wake up, I just want to lay back down / I know it’s not the way I planned it,” she sings in “No Dream of Fayres.” The songs’ plainspoken narrators occupy the many stages between paralysis and inching ahead. “Even if you fall you have the choice / Do you love again even if it all catapults?” Cogan asks in “Catapult,” as Dylan Frankland lays down warm sheets of guitar over drummer Cian O’Neill’s steady jingle.
Patina displays the Tallies’ gift for melody with multiple tracks, but especially “Hearts Underground,” which finds them channeling the Cranberries to irresistible effect. “Wound Up Tight” is the band’s heaviest song yet, a release of coiled energy like grunge behind a glass wall. The album loses some steam in the second half, though the handclap-aided “Am I the Man” gives it a jolt. “When Your Life is Not Over” closes us out on an ambivalent note: “When your life is not over, sweeping your mistakes / Shame will fade, you’ll be laughing longer” before a hypnotic repetition: “You learn to love, lonely.” This short double-sided phrase is the perfect signpost for Tallies: wide-eyed in search of warmth while remaining cautiously detached. Sometimes that gap feels like a canyon. Tallies make music to enrich its cavernous spaces.
Label: Bella Union
Casey is thinking about modern hip-hop and 70s rock. He’s written for Grandma Sophia’s Cookies, Brainchild, Plaze Music and WTJU.