Monday 14 May 2018

Album Review: The Tiger Tail - Pevan & Sarah

The Tiger Tail is the second album from the irrepressible Pevan & Sarah, a musical duo from Melbourne, Australia. The album contains a host of catchy, upbeat and interactive songs that the whole family will love.  A major strength of the album is its diversity, and its ambitious attempt to explore a whole range of musical styles, including reggae, rap, pop, rock and disco.  The lead vocals are as clear as crystal, with a clarity of purpose second to none, and the songs are highly melodic, and brimming with pop sensibility throughout. Each song has a definitive hook, is easy to dance to and contains some unique and empowering lyrics written to inspire a whole new generation.

The album kicks off in superb form with the song “Get Up”, with its hypnotic beat, and potent lyrics urging the listener to get up, ‘get your body moving’ and make the most of every day. The arrangement features keyboards, bass and drums on the verse, with an additional brass arrangement on the chorus to add further verve to the track. The song is delightful, effective, and encourages kids to get moving.

The party really gets going with the second track “Imagination”, with its unique blend of rhythm and melody. The vocal interplay between Pevan and Sarah is really quite charming, but it is the chorus, which really grabs the listener’s attention, with a lyric, emphatically declaring how we must ‘use our imagination’. The song is highly interactive, providing opportunities throughout for children to imitate monsters, pirates or even mermaids where they can even ‘talk under water to the fishes’. 

“It’s OK to Make Mistakes” has a message that should resonate with all teachers and parents. Inhibition and fear is something that needs to be tackled head on, and what better way to go about this than through music. The melody is once again, tight and focused, with an uplifting chorus that takes off like a rocket. The middle eight encourages Pevan to join in, and after a couple of clumsy attempts he eventually succeeds, further emphasising the point.  The arrangement is interesting, with the song quite dramatically grinding to a halt half way through, and then storming back with a noticeable change of key to emphatically declare, it really is ‘ok to make mistakes’.

“Gibberish Rap” is essentially a rap with nonsensical lyrics, with Pevan adopting the role of enthusiastic student to further encourage children to participate. The lyrics really are quite bizarre but clearly work in the context of the song, where we are either ‘walking on bread’ or observing our socks bursting into song. There is plenty of impact in the lead vocal, with a delivery that would make Eminem sit up and take notice

“Give it a Go” has something of a ska feel, and races along hardly pausing for breath. The vocal delivery reminded me a little of The Not-Its,with its tight musicality and ferocity of purpose. The song encourages children to ‘give it a go’ and ‘try it today’, so that later on, we can ‘face our fears with no more tears.’  The lyrics are sharp and focused emphasising the importance of getting involved and having a go, with the outro providing examples of how this can be achieved. 

“My Balloon” introduces a slight reggae feel, with the additional use of steel drums adding a Caribbean flavour to the overall sound. The song is vibrant and lively and describes the fun you can have when simply playing with a balloon.  Although the balloon sadly drifts away at the end, we are reminded that we can always blow another one up to keep the game going.  The song is again easy to dance to, with lyrics that encourage the listener to bounce along, as we go ‘up, up, up, up, up’.

“Bath Time” blends together a Motown drum pattern with an inventive brass section, and is an absolute must for any parent trying to persuade their children to take a bath. Bath time here is no longer drudgery but great fun, with children encouraged to grab their rubber duck, and jump into the bath. The song is vibrant melodic and instructive, and features some well timed power chords in the background for additional impact. The song finishes with a reminder of what we need to take to the bath, a checklist that Pevan happily assists with.

“Don’t Pop My Bubble”, deals with the sensitive issue of personal space, how we may experience different emotions, and how to act when we feel vulnerable or angry. The fact that the song can make complex subject matter both fun and engaging, highlights how the band never lose sight of the big picture. The music certainly lifts the mood with the additional inclusion of nineteen fifties harmonies, which would not be out of place on the set of Grease or Happy Days. I am sure Fonzie would approve.

“I Like it Loud” cleverly alternates between music which is both loud and soft. The lyrics emphasise the importance of being quiet, such as 'when the baby is asleep’, and other times when it is okay to be loud, ‘especially when I’m dancing’.  The way the music modulates between the two moods is very effective with some power chords thrown in to pump up the volume where required. Towards the end Pevan and Sarah take alternative positions, with Sarah preferring it loud and Pevan soft.This technique serves to further engage the listener; assisted by some additional Beatles inspired harmonies to add further intrigue.

“The Tiger Tail” is essentially an action song, where Pevan, with a little help from Sarah, puts together a series of actions to create a ‘signature move’.  Here the song seemingly writes itself, as it progresses through a variety of dance moves, which Pevan eagerly imitates. The chorus encourages the children to ‘roll your paws, tiger slide, and swing your tail from side to side’, and is eagerly chanted over a somewhat hypnotic backing track. In many ways the song pulls together many of the ideas featured throughout the album, combining in such a way as to provide a signature theme for the band, which is a great way to finish an album.

This is an excellent album, featuring ten songs of immense variety, captivating lyrics, and musical dexterity throughout. The vocals are as clear as crystal and the lyrics are thoughtful and informative.  It is superbly put together, and like all great albums leaves you wanting more. There is plenty here for children to dance to, but perhaps more importantly, the songs explore many of the challenging issues children face on a daily basis. If we can encourage all children to express themselves, have a go, and not be afraid to make mistakes we can make a better world for all of us.

Pevan and Sarah – let the children boogie.