Klosterman on tUnE-yArDs

I was comforted to discover that I’m not alone in my embarrassment at having only just, um, tuned in to Merrill Garbus, bka tUnE-yArDs, after her coronation by the Village Voice.

Alas, a little Chuck Klosterman goes a long way (a little Grantland goes a long way, quite frankly). His strained effort to “get it” betrays an underlying fear of being out of touch which is a bit embarrassing. Something about puppets seems to really terrify him (bad dreams as a kid?) Klosterman can be dead funny and “smart” in the vague pop-sociological way of his brethren. I’m afraid he also proves that you can spend decades writing about pop music for major periodicals and still know virtually nothing about, well, music.

Where Klosterman’s rather backhanded with his praise, I’m more bullish on Garbus for a couple of reasons. First, she has much more than a “modicum” of talent. She simply plays and sings circles around most of the rest of indie-rock. And her musicality is deployed to refreshingly original ends. Second, she redeems that much-abused word “auteur.” You get the feeling Garbus was able to tap directly into her musical brain and pour it out perfectly unfiltered onto disk. Whether the result pleases you or not, that’s an all too rare victory for an artist.

Klosterman’s palpable anxiety about where Garbus fits into the broader history of pop music tells us much more about him than it does about the future of tUnE-yArDs. –CL