The self-titled debut from Toronto’s Tallies is a solid tip of the hat to C86-era British indie rock.
Expectations were very high for Reading, England’s The Sundays when they debuted in 1989. Hailed as the successors to The Smiths’ jangle pop crown, The Sundays were presumed to fill the vast void left in the UK indie charts in the wake of The Smiths’ split some nineteen months earlier. But that was enough time for tastes to move on to acid house, and the burgeoning Madchester music scene.
Regardless of musical fashion and indie rock mythology, there’s a reason for the enduring allure of guitar-bass-drum pop crafted by The Smiths, The Sundays, and contemporary Toronto-based band Tallies: all were directly (as with The Smiths) or indirectly (as per Tallies and The Sundays) influenced by the trebly guitars and sugar-sweet pop melodies of vintage 60s rock ‘n’ roll. You can’t go wrong when you’re taking your cues from the classics. Like their primary influencers, Tallies feel like a reaction against the cold, sterile nostalgia of their musical contemporaries. Singles “Beat The Heart” and “Mother” are warm and fuzzy (as well as precise and jangly) due in large part to the alchemy of Sarah Cogan’s voice and Dylan Frankland’s guitar playing.
For an old fogey like me, whose heart starts racing when he hears the opening chords of “Cemetry Gates” and “Here’s Where The Story Ends”, Tallies harken back to an emotion-filled, socially-charged adolescent rebellion, to being an outsider with no interest in looking in. Tallies the album improves and impresses with repeated listening (“Not So Proud” and “Eden” are precious gems). It is a solid and competent tip of the hat to a legacy that spans from C86-era British indie rock right back through The Byrds, The Beatles, and the Everly Brothers. Like their contemporaries Alvvays, what’s lacking in Tallies’s modern interpretation of jangle pop’s left-of-centre rock aesthetic is an immediate sense of urgency and agency. Regardless, Tallies’s self-titled debut scratches a long-forgotten musical itch that triggers fond memories and remembrances. Here’s hoping it’s just the start of their long story.