Timber Timbre fuckin’ rule. I should get that out of the way at the outset, I’m a huge fan and have been for years, ever since they put out Creep On Creepin’ On, an album I’d been waiting to hear my entire young-adult life. I heard them on a college radio station for the first time, driving through Vermont first thing in the morning with a fever developing. “Sparrows at your window / Starlings at your door / Magpies wherever we go.” Freak Folk. Blues. Psychedelia. These are the Wikipedia tags for what Timber Timbre do, but listening to them you get the feeling that while this is correct, trying to get to exactly what they are is difficult because they sound like so many things but ultimately just like themselves. Their sound is incredibly specific, so much so that it sounds like they should have always been around. The low, seductive male vocals speaking of different, more Lynchian worlds, love stories in the dark south of William Faulkner, now inhabited by ghosts and haunted Cadillacs.
Their new album, Sincerely Future Pollution, seemed at first like a bit of a departure. They had made the classic move, it seemed, of going electro. And it’s true, listening to the singles Sewer Blues, and Grifting, they seem like a band falling out of love with their guitars. But listening to the album as a whole it becomes clear what they’re really up to. First of all, the whole thing remains deathlessly retro. Whereas some bands introduce synthesizers in an effort to appear more cutting edge, Timber Timbre have brought their sound only up to, perhaps 1986. There are the classic sawtooth synths, analog drum machines, funky-wah basslines and vocoder. What they do with these is bring out the inherent creepiness in these tools, their inherent oddness and unreality brought out by removing them from the context of generic pop. They create a similar atmosphere to Pink Floyd and Bowie, managing to summon menace over funk-bass grooves. They talk about the future through this lense of the past, notably on the track “Western Questions”:
Hollywood halo/ the UFO light oozing from every screen
Western questions, desperate elections, campaign Halloween
We relax with our love life published, slip into something obscene
We got slime and flamingos, take the number but please don’t forget about me
Timber Timbre slip on this decadent synthetic veneer in order to warn us, in order to become prophets of slime, slime coming up from the sewers, permeating society. It comes up again and again, this image of pervasive, decadent corruption in America. And what better period to draw your palette from than 1986, cocaine, Ronald Reagan, and Wall Street, coming like smiling, evil ghosts out of the past. It’s a different haunted landscape they sing from now but one every bit as terrifying. — JAMES M. DAVIS