(from the press release)
Formed by singer-guitarist Cherie Ko and multi-instrumentalist Ted Doré, TOMGIRL’s self-titled album is a 33-minute dark noir ride through cult B-movie homages and outlaw Americana, chronicling the duo’s lawless escapades, deadly criminal encounters and white-hot passion.
Meeting serendipitously in Singapore while sharing their joint passion for live music, the pair formed an immediate chemistry, culminating in a musical collaboration that defied distance and convention. Pressed for time with Doré soon returning to his home of Melbourne, the newly formed duo had to act fast. “We wrote ‘Darker Now’ together one night before Ted flew back to Melbourne. The second song we wrote was ‘Walk All Over Me’ and it was what set everything in stone. It made us realise that this was real, and ‘Darker Now’ wasn’t just a happy accident,” says Ko.
Intermittently writing a handful of songs together and the rest while apart, the vagabond pair produced 10 tracks in just one year, with a compelling story inspired by their love for cult film noir classics. Throughout the album’s 10 tracks, listeners are teleported to a world of gangland lawlessness and reckless abandon, while immersed in the duo’s modern tale of dizzying newfound love, crushing heartbreak and blinding lust for revenge. In contrast to the bright electronic sounds that listeners have come to expect from girl-boy duos in the pop sphere, attitude and danger to explore their story, marked by whirling tremolo guitars, atmospheric tension, and fearless vocal hooks; a sound that is both familiar and refreshed. On distilling the spirit of rebellion in TOMGIRL adopts a sonic signature that brims with their sound, Ko explains, “It’s about letting go and going all out, with no regard for the consequences.”
The album’s opening “[Prologue]” immediately plunges audiences into a grainy, black-and-white fever dream, with the sound of Harley-Davidsons roaring behind surf-inspired guitar licks reminiscent of Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino’s Grindhouse. Like unknown dangers lurking around the corner, “Darker Now” dramatically kicks in with Doré’s distorted guitars setting a thick, smoky atmosphere, while Ko’s velvety vocals narrate the aftermath of a blood-curdling crime. On the cusp of capture, she cautions the perpetrator – or, perhaps, the listeners – of a hell-bound foreshadowing in a crescendo of infectious harmony. Quickly changing pace, “Heartbeats” lulls listeners into a flirtatious garage pop number on the confusing, exciting sensations of a new flame. With soft chimes atop fuzzy guitars and a driving bass line, images of a bubble-gum chewing siren’s encounter with a leather jacket-clad bad boy introduce the first sparks between lovers from different sides of the tracks. Like the fluctuating heartbeats of the protagonists, the listener is taken through shifting paces in the songs that follow as the romance unfolds and cracks begin to surface.
Commenting on the diversity of the album’s tone, Doré explains, “We wanted it to be a rollercoaster ride of emotions and moods – visceral and aggressive one moment, ethereal and moody the next.”
A rollercoaster, it is, as audiences arrive at the viscera of the album’s darkest moment, “Walk All Over Me.” Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, and in tribute to classic revenge ballads like Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are Made For Walkin’,” TOMGIRL puts its own gritty spin on the country genre. Through sinister guitar rhythms and hard-hearted vocals, the song serves as a warning while chronicling the dissolution of a love that once burned bright, going into graphic lyrical detail about the consequences of crossing the wrong woman.
While TOMGIRL’s filmic muses reprise the sounds of the ’50s and ’60s with a dark noir pop twist, the album is not without its unexpected forays into genres that fall outside the era. Where “Lust To Dust” echoes melancholy riffs championed by the likes of The Smiths’ Johnny Marr, “Mini-Skirt Mob” takes listeners on an unnerving electronic ride that reminisces the electro-punk stylings of American duo, Suicide. Ko and Doré’s enthusiasm for blurring sonic boundaries comes to a head in what might be the album’s most focused and emotional effort, “Alchemy” – a genre-crossing slow number that blends elements of electronica, fuzz and noise rock, desperate voices cry for salvation over pained guitars and electronic instrumentation that culminate in a somber, cinematic conclusion, while leaving listeners unsure of the fate of the law-breaking lovers.
As individual stories, TOMGIRL’s 10 tracks traverse different territories in a wide-ranging spectrum of sound, spanning distinct influences and eras while maintaining a dark noir aesthetic throughout. However, when pieced together, each song represents a chapter in the story as a whole, characterizing the different emotions and expressions of a love that burns so bright it consumes all in its path.“We all experience the full spectrum of human emotions,” says Ko. “Without darkness, we shall never experience the real embrace of warmth and light.”
TOMGIRL’s self-titled debut will be released across all major digital platforms come September 2. The album is also available on translucent blood red vinyl, available for pre-order at www.tomgirlband.com.
The pair will be performing the entire album live at Mosaic Music Weekend on September 4. Limited tickets are still available at SISTIC.