First off, don't be fooled by the fact that this falls under the 'demo' heading (or, for that matter, by the inexplicable and incongruent band name); it does so only because a forthcoming single is still in the works at time of writing, whilst various of the many, many guesting singers and the like on these tracks have healthy musical careers of their own. Everything's so slickly recorded it shines, and - bar the odd tuning problem or slight glitch attributable to the seams of experimental songwriting peeking through - pretty much flawlessly executed.
Of course, this means nothing without musical and extramusical hooks, and one of the appealing features of TSM is the fact that the predominantly laid-back sounding, jazz-influenced surface frequently breaks into admissions of weakness ("I don't get sympathy for what should be the last thing that they could hate me for..."). Not that this is a jazz record, at least not any more than it's some kind of dark and bitter, tonally challenged, salsa-tinged exercise in lyrical sword-swallowing (ranging from heartache to Tiananmen Square via 'Red symphonies'). With Gregorian chant, real string sections and sequencers. If you can imagine that. I couldn't, from pre-demo reports.
The eclecticism of the musical presentation lifts up the generally introspective mien of the songs enough that you could probably play this at parties, if you were sure of your friends. That much is up to you. For what it's worth, though, the first three tracks - 'Tequila and Tears', 'Throw-away Line' and 'Cardiac Whinge' - are far and away the best in terms of passion and conviction, with later experiments such as 'Elegy' still intriguing but showing the musical glue between ideas that crucial tiny bit too much. It's hard to condemn that entirely, though, given that this much proliferation of ideas is too often a rarity in (however you want to take this phrase) 'modern music'. The latter track in particular recalls Skylab with smoothed-off edges, which in this context can only be a compliment. The presence on a non-release collection of one solitary remix is slightly worrying, given it could sprout into the cool-headed recycling we're often forced to regard as "urban" and "experimental", but we'll let that one pass for now.
All in all, one of the more interesting things to happen to my CD player in the last few months, and almost certainly the most varied. Contact details, unfortunately, entirely lacking at the moment - but they'll be back, count on it.
8Kate Dornan's Score