Thomas Johnson is more Paul Coffey than Mark Messier
Edmonton isn’t exactly a hub for entertainment. Mac Demarco has started to get some international recognition with his latest two albums, and Cadence Weapon has been doing his thing for the better part of a decade now on the indie rap circuit. Otherwise, no waves bigger than the Oilers embarrassing franchise are creating any buzz from Alberta’s capitol.
Enter Tennyson: 18 year-old Luke Pretty and his 16 year-old sister Tess. Tennyson isn’t destined for stardom, at least not the in the sense of becoming a part of our cultural zeitgeist. Rather, a passing glance through their rapidly expanding Soundcloud shows the lineage they will follow; that of the adventurous artist content with a target demographic tripping in their college dorms to their music.
On “With You”, the scattered beat switches up faster than you can follow, then snaps right back to its ambiguous beginning; even the soft babbling of water in the background adds to the unconventional flow of the track. “You’re Cute” creates the duo’s most dizzying height, while the beautifully gentle plinks of keys and a soft synth ensure it doesn’t fly into the sun. These richer moments create a sensation not unlike the more mellow tones on Shlohmo’s Bad Vibes, a major influence on the group along with Flying Lotus’ acid-jazz/comic hip hop fusion.
Tess, not even old enough to play most of their shows without legal permission, adds a singularity to their work. Unlike the usual case of swapping out a rotating cast of singers and rappers, she remains the group’s static vocal contributor. Her whispery falsetto, even on the more ebullient suites adds a grounding effect, as well as her bewildering precision on the drums.
The oldest project of Tennyson’s bandcamp page, a self-titled debut, dates all the way back to April 2012, eight months after the previously mentioned Shlohmo album, and four months before Until The Quiet Comes. They were 15 at the time. Since then, they have dropped two more projects, the latest being October’s gorgeous With You EP. They also have “You’re Cute”, released on the Secret Songs string by Ryan Hemsworth. Just like Cadence Weapon’s brainy DIY hip-hop, or Demarco’s slacker response to indie rock, Tennyson is the latest seed planted in Edmonton’s subversive crop of leftfield indie darlings.