Album Review: Indie Titans Collide on Thao & Mirah

Thao Nguyen told Gozamos she was a hip-hop head, but I hadn’t heard it in any of her productions until the opening drum rail of “Eleven.” The tropical yodel of Mirah’s vocals on this track seem ¬†however out of place against Thao’s grain. Around the half way point, Mirah tones it down and keeps it cool with her usual sweetness. The song mellows out into a more palpable duet. The chorus, however unconvincing, is just as exuberant as it is exhausting.

Thoa brings it back to a more casual, country twang on “Folks,” with diligent guitars and faint trumpets. This is a track capable of lulling any beast. Mirah’s beautiful swan-swooping solo on “Little Cup,” harps back to her Black Cat Orchestra days with vicious vulnerability. Her whispers chime as much as they warm. The trumpets on “Rubies and Rocks,” seem a little out of place on the album as a whole, but make sense on the pseudo-soul groove. The trumpets take on their own personality. Church opera or angelic chorals are sown together on “Teeth,” accompanying Thao’s sundry lyricism.

Mira wows with her Sheryl Crow croon on “Space out Orbit,” and Thao holds it down with her usual feist on “How Dare You.” The speakeasy hum and strum on “Sugar and Plastic” aren’t as invigorating as the previous tracks, and “Likable Man” also weights the album down a bit with its chain gang light-jazz. “Hallelujah,” brings nothing unique to a timeless hymn but thankfully, Thao and Mirah pick it back up on the solid hitting “Squareneck.” All in all the album isn’t as effective as I’d hoped. These artists, separately astound, and their live performances together are energetic and impressive. However this album reminds me that good friends and eager collaborators, Thao and Mirah, two names that were made apart, should probably continue to record that way. I miss the passion and angst in Thao’s band project and the intimacy of Mirah’s quietness.

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