Album review by KevW for www.soundsxp.com
Despite having a sound and a name that implies The Tablets are a band, this album is in fact largely the work of Mexican-born, Brooklyn-based musician Liz Godoy who wrote, arranged and co-produced her debut with the assistance of Pissed Jeans and Male Bonding engineer Brenden Beu. Released in her adopted homeland last year, 'The Tablets' has now hit the UK and, just as the saying goes, a spoonful of sugar helps this particular medicine go down. As a solid block of work, this is an appealing record, although the songs that burn brightest and will likely live longest in the memory are those where melody and a certain stateliness is most apparent.
There are a mixture of influences running through these songs, which are built from drum machines, Beu's scuzzy guitars, Godoy's keys and a voice that belongs on early 4AD releases. Sometimes it's good to save the best for last, but in opening with the title-track, The Tablets leave themselves with a tough act to follow. With parts borrowed from The Breeders, Suicide and JAMC, they get off to a flyer. Mind you, when The Legendary Pink Dots cover 'I Love You In Your Tragic Beauty' follows, it may be less immediate, but the Raveonettes-with-added-organ sound is still impressive, switching to a more girl-group inspired end section (Raveonettes fans should also check out 'Pray A Fight', although this isn't quite so effective). The organ sticks around for 'Bookmarks' which combines Halloween atmospherics with shards of bright guitar and the jangle of the percussion.
'Sugar Coated' perhaps sums things up; its harsh sonic textures should appeal to the noise lover in you, but the pop element is never too far away. The whole '60s girl group meets fuzz rock and Suicide sound is evident again in the bizarrely-named 'Who Killed The Electric Blanket?'. The dark, jarring electronic beats of 'The Cuts' is offset nicely with a good layer of scuzz and Godoy's harmonies which later flower into the melodic stateliness that brings out the best in what The Tablets do; this general vibe is repeated on 'Armistice', whereas 'Vladimir' uses a similar atmosphere and development but could be a Crystals cover, resulting in another high point. Despite being fashioned from the same ingredients, 'Stranger's Light' is somehow more rooted in '80s pop, albeit the more mysterious fringes. In contrast to the upbeat opener, 'The Tablets' ends on a more solemn note with 'Flowers', but as with most of this album, the song builds and changes until we have jagged drums and crunches of guitar. The lo-fi, melody-over-noise thing has been done to death in recent years, but in adding layers of organ and those sometimes harsh electronic beats, The Tablets have managed to breath some new life into the genre.