Album review: The Tumbledryer Babies – OMNIPOP

As the cover says, OMNIPOP is ten pop hits arranged for Suzuki Omnichord. If you’re unaware of what an Omnichord is, it’s a somewhat bizarre electronic instrument made in 1981 that’s somewhere between a Bontempi organ, a rudimentary drum machine, a keytar, and a ridiculous giant plastic peg.

It’s also a very apt choice of weapon for The Tumbledryer Babies, or Andrew Moore as he is otherwise known. Having spent a few days dipping in and out of his extensive (crazy) back catalogue, OMNIPOP feels like a curious appetiser. In a way, it reminded me of those strange little chocolate cigarettes you used to get in sweet shops that probably conditioned kids into buying the real thing, so be careful. You’ll be bleary-eyed, dredging Bandcamp looking for lo-fi pop gold before you know it.

Essentially a ten-track album of covers; OMNIPOP includes songs by artists such as Neil Young, Billy Joel, Sparks, Butthole Surfers and, er, Kermit the Frog. As you’d expect, the whole thing is kinda silly, and you could probably definitely argue that the world doesn’t need an Omnichord version of Robyn’s Dancing On My Own, but I’m glad that it exists. The collection is great fun, and weirdly moving in places. When it works, it really does.

Moore’s low, conversational delivery is very similar to that of Jarvis Cocker, and the version of Pulp’s TV Movie is a pretty inspired choice to pay homage – again tapping into something deeper than the album’s Omnichord gimmick suggests, partly because of the genuine sweetness of the double-tracked higher octave that comes in towards the end. Whereas Cocker gets louder and more desperate, this seems to get more and more tender. It’s genuinely lovely. Following on its heels, the previously mentioned Dancing On My Own is another quiet triumph. I can’t quite put my finger on why I like it so much, but I think it’s the extreme restraint of the vocals. It’s almost as if Moore can only record in the dead of night once the children are down. He’s right there in your ear; this guy that you don’t know – and he’s strumming this giant plastic peg, singing you to sleep.

Obviously OMNIPOP isn’t going to win any awards, but that’s really not the point. What it is though, is odd, and charming, and a bit of a blast. It’s also introduced me to a few great songs that I’d never heard of, and made me seek out the brilliant It’s All For You: Ten Years of The Tumbledryer Babies on Spotify. So even if it’s not an accurate reflection of Moore’s work, for those reasons alone it’s a success. If you like lo-fi alternative pop music (and, honestly, who doesn’t?) then you could do far worse today than introduce yourself to The Tumbledryer Babies. I did and I’m sold.

Check out The Tumbledryer Babies on Bandcamp, Twitter and Instagram.

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