With a lineage of musical talent that includes REM, Neutral Milk Hotel and The B52s among its number, the city of Athens, Georgia has a history to be proud of. One of its more recent exports are Tunabunny, a four-piece whose lo-fi, post-punk stylings have occasionally drawn comparison with Sleater Kinney, Throwing Muses and Yo La Tengo.
Since forming five years ago, the two-girl, two-boy collective - Mary Jane Hassell, Brigette Herron, Scott Creney and newest addition to the line-up Jesse Stinnard - have been fairly sporadic when it comes to releasing music. However, with a focus that's firmly fixed on quality rather than quantity, none of their half-dozen or so records to date has failed to hit the spot as it were.
Having signed to Mike Turner's (of Athens Popfest fame) Happy Happy Birthday To Me imprint in 2010, Tunabunny put out their self-titled debut LP in the same year. Raw and uncompromising, it hinted at the promise which was to come 12 months later in the shape of the excellent Minima Moralia. Although primarily linked together with the post-riot grrrl/C86 revivalists scene, the depth of songwriting evident on the likes of 'Subterranean' and '(Song For My) Solar Sister' suggested they were a band whose creative impetus was on the increase at a rate of knots.
But then as so often happens, a lack of media hype and publicity meant those first two records disappeared largely unnoticed. Instead, it took a co-headline tour with the sadly now-departed Shrag last year to remind people why Tunabunny were so highly regarded in the first instance, with several of the songs played during those shows being works in progress for their hugely anticipated (in some quarters) third album. Certainly the difference between the more familiar Minima... material and the newer songs was there for all to see. Bristling with an urgent tenacity and ferocious bite, that next record couldn't arrive soon enough.
Fast forward another 12 months and here we are. Genius Fatigue writhes in a furious mass of its own making, leaving many of those aforementioned reference points at the back door. As a result, Tunabunny have never sounded more assured, not least the occasionally seductive, sometimes wistful harmonies of Herron and Hassell. On 'Duchess For Nothing', the two bitch "She ain't no parody of a woman, she's a screaming queen" in incredulous fashion over rattling, discordant guitars. 'Serpents & Light' and 'Slackjawed' kick up a sprightly fuss too, all flickering guitars and banshee howls asunder.
Its on the more drawn out pieces like 'Form A Line' and 'Wrong Kind Of Attention' that Genius Fatigue and Tunabunny really come into their own. The former's punk-pop mantra ("The fire won't stop burning, it feeds itself within itself") acts as the yin to the latter's monumentally poignant yang ("You know it finally killed her when they threw her into the water"). Throw in the noise-heavy call-and-response bombast of 'Pachyderm, Fallen' and 'Government Of Throats'' brazen punk rock and any suggestion of Tunabunny being one-trick ponies is dispelled in an instant.
Ultimately, Genius Fatigue is one of those records that demands to be listened to repeatedly. You have been warned.
8Dom Gourlay's Score