It’s Lana, here to present your weekend-ready selves with some freshly-ground beans.
If you’re not familiar with Turnip King, get familiar. Born in the Long Island suburbia of Sea Cliff New York, the 4-person phantom Turnip King makes some grade-A psych-punk. They are notoriously big fish in the teeming art-school-born DIYers of greater NYC, forming in 2011 and quickly making their way to Brooklyn-based interviews and festival stages before finishing high school. As is the uj with DIY bands, Turnip King garnered large support from their live show fanbase before releasing any studio albums, twisting up the usual instrumentation with the occasional flute and/or self-synthesized vibraphone. Their first full-length wasn’t released until this past fall, but made up for its tardiness in subsequent proliferation by NPR Music’s First Watch, catching the eyes and ears of the critical audience.
In contrast to the suburban-shoegaze of debut Laika, Drive 2 Meet U is much more in-your-face-obtrusive. Graduating from a wavily-pedaled atmospheric preponderance, Drive 2 Meet U more prominently features the “jazz boy noise” of their live shows, full of calculated schizophrenic improvisations spanning a wide array of traditional and static-based instruments. These stylistic studio turns are coupled with more sobering semantics, as the group’s confidence in executing compositional risks fuses with an exploratory live-fast-die-young sentiment.
The opening tracks of the record point towards a sort of bipolar nostalgia, where smidges of childhood are sometimes revered and other times freakishly distorted. Take the opening track “Beauty on the Beat,” with its Disney-punned title and its dialogic vocals embodying the rapidly changing life directions of a forward-fixated yet recent graduate, and the corresponding difficulties of change (“you wanna choose a new thing / you’ve got to to deal with it”). Likewise, “Celebrate” presents a sort of funhousified version of the classic 00s sitcom anthem “Celebration,” looking to once crystallised moments of the past with newfound ideologies injected with crippling existentialism. “Beeba,” which initially presents as the calm eye of the storm, emerges with its own wind-riding cows and flute-playing zombies. Along with “Genureate,” it presents moments of slow-tempoed misty trip hop that express Turnip King’s once-alien-now-familiar virtuosic ability to acquire new repertoires. Concluding with the Beat Happening-like gritty guitar of “Out,” Drive 2 Meet U strikes a beautiful balance between a hi-fi academic-sounding array of close-proximity digital noise and the paternally foundational lo-fi of the suburbs.
So, at the end of our semantic speculations, we form a sort of multi-bodied conclusion akin to the overstuffed bags of the grad-cap-donning Bard alums. Perhaps the album is a sonic imagery of the sort of pandemonium that one envisions to be the ~real world~ after leaving the comfy shag-carpeted womb of university. Perhaps it is a dissertation-style “here is what I learned throughout my years of education” explosion of sound, packing mementos of past and present life into the suitcases of the uncharted future. Nevertheless, Drive 2 Meet U presents the rawest form that has yet to come from Turnip King’s increasingly growing musical fortitude. Catch their undoubtedly (yet unfathomably) even more enrapturing of a stage presence on their Graduation tour, running through the U.S. and Canada ‘til 21st June.