On 2009’s BiRd-BrAiNs, Merril Garbus sings “When a girl feels so alone / What a tease to throw a bone.” That sense of longing and aloneness was amplified by the delicate ukelele and lo-fi DIY sound of her debut, making Garbus’ first album more suited for a seat on a turntable at 11 PM when all your friends bailed on your plans to go out that night.
But on the w h o k i l l standout “Powa”, she proclaims “Baby bring me home to bed / I need you to press me down before my body flies away from me.” Whatever loneliness that existed two years ago has apparently been replaced with a boyfriend or love interest. Her second album, w h o k i l l, comes across as more celebratory and explosive than her first album.
Later on in “Powa” Garbus states “My man likes me from behind / Your power inside / It gives me thrills I can’t describe.” Sex becomes a recurring theme on w h o k i l l, and the album progresses much like a wild night. The first four tracks provide an immediate upper, all with stomping beats and hummable hooks before the aforementioned “Powa” brings the mood down to slow dance pace. The obvious singles, “Bizness” and “Gangsta”, will be the first tracks to make an impression, but the beauty of w h o k i l l comes from discovering all the intricacies of the other tracks and picking your favorite. “You Yes You” has become one of my favorite songs of the year, just for the little diva-esque scream she belts out during the second verse.
There’s no doubt that tUnE-yArDs’ newest album is one of the best of the year. w h o k i l l has the potential to open a large fanbase for Merril Garbus, and one can only hope she has dozens of more songs floating around in her head for the future.