Telefon Tel Aviv - Immolate Yourself

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  • I had most of a different version of review written before I read the terrible recent announcement that Charlie Cooper, half of this decade-strong Chicago duo, was found dead on Thursday, January 22. The news spooked me, particularly CBS2's mention a reported history of suicide threats: I didn't know either Cooper or his TTA partner Josh Eustis, but I had interviewed them together only three days before Cooper was found. What had been a life-affirming chat has now shifted uncomfortably in memory. But maybe it's because that conversation was so much fun that re-listening to Immolate Yourself didn't draw out as much foreboding as I feared it might. That isn't to say the thing isn't swampy and dark. This will likely come as a surprise to fans of their skinnier previous work: 2001's Fahrenheit Fair Enough and 2004's Map of What Is Effortless were twisting two-man post-IDM, heavy on Fender Rhodes and unstable, trebly beats. Taking a few years to put together this follow-up, they layered on the aural glaze, lush and almost shoegazey at times. They haven't turned into MBV copyists, though. If anything most of Immolate Yourself is skillful new wave redux—a general expansion of their sound and songwriting. The opener, "The Birds," sounds like New Order preserved in amber: there's even a stutter-sample bit during the middle-eight, buried beneath clouds of smoke so that it doesn't sound cutesy, while "M" and "Helen of Troy" are filled with generous, if mopey, hooks. But the album's back half is a different story. "Made a Tree on the World" pulsates dreamily, but its massed voices rising up and down in the mix have an unsteady undercurrent that tenses things up. "Your Every Idol" follows it with what sound like foghorns and street sounds daubed in pastel that are steadily overtaken by a stumbling drum loop and blob-like low end and synth like John Carpenter incidental music. That this menacing instrumental directly precedes "You Are the Worst Thing in the World," the catchiest thing on the album, is probably not a coincidence. That the album is called Immolate Yourself probably is one, however horribly timed. Over the phone, Cooper and Eustis told me the title is a joke about death metal. I wish it had remained one. Please, take care of yourselves.
  • Tracklist
      01. The Birds 02. Your Mouth 03. M 04. Helen of Troy 05. Mostly Translucent 06. Stay Away from Being Maybe 07. I Made a Tree on the Wold 08. Your Every Idol 09. You Are the Worst Thing in the World 10. Immolate Yourself