Ukulele-based pop with unique instrumentation and songwriting.
Alexander Abnos plays three types of ukulele, guitar, piano, bass, drums, and more on The Heart Goes Nine, his album under the name Tut Tut. With all of these instruments, plus strings and brass to boot, Abnos’ songwriting shines in a unique way on this ambitious album.
From the first song, “Marquee (KC’s Theme),” a lo-fi and laid-back sound is introduced. The vocals have a fuzzy feel to them that adds warmth and intimacy, and this feeling is continued throughout The Heart Goes Nine. “Marquee” also sets the tone of the remainder of the album by introducing the sound of rich strings against pluckier and brighter instruments like ukulele, guitar and brass. The contrast balances perfectly, however, without ever feeling odd or misplaced.
The extensive use of ukulele adds an unexpected charm and originality throughout. One song that the instrument is especially apparent in is the mellow “Over – Under.” The layering of ukulele, sustaining strings and smooth horn tones makes this song sound like it is performed by a mini indie orchestra. The song that follows, “The Vern Song,” returns to a poppier sound at a quicker tempo. Despite the fact that it is the shortest song on the album, “The Vern Song” is still one of the catchiest on The Heart Goes Nine.
“It’s Happening Now (Aftershock Rock)” takes lo-fi sound to the album’s extreme with a wash of blurry sound. This may be fitting though for the song’s subject matter of an earthquake in California. The beginning of the song with only vocals and ukulele is a little fuzzy, and is hard to hear, but it picks up in the middle with the addition of bass and drums.
One of the album’s best is “Umbrella.” The narrative quality of the song is touching without being too overemotional. As “Umbrella” progresses, more and more sounds and instruments are added, aiding its development and keeping it interesting. By its conclusion, the song is very full, without being obvious of how it ended that way.
Overall, there are some slightly sloppy moments on The Heart Goes Nine, but these places don’t stand out as much as the album’s endearing and distinctive sound does.
– Megan Morgan