Thao with the Get Down Stay Down
Know Better Learn Faster
Kill Rock Stars
Nov 06, 2009 Web Exclusive
Know Better Learn Faster, the sophomore LP from Thao With The Get Down Stay Down, begins with the lively chant of "If this is how you want it, OK, OK" with clapping behind it. It's a perfect intro to this break-up record: a warning to watch out because what's coming next is not going to be pretty. Much of the music itself actually is pretty, with bright guitars and multi-voiced choruses with help from tUnE-YarDs and singer/songwriter Laura Veirs, but with that comes bandleader Thao Nguyen's melancholy lyrics about heartbreak and neglect. In "Body," she sings, "What am I, just a body in your bed?/Oh won't you reach for the body in your bed?" and in the kiss-off tune "Good Bye Good Luck," it's "Young hearts, you must be different/Not for us, but next time/We don't have strength or patience to hold you/Take care with your neck and your spine."
Produced by Tucker Martine (The Decemberists, Mirah), the record also features soaring violin lines and whistling from Andrew Bird on the title track, along with organ and piano contributions from The Decemberists' Jenny Conlee and slide guitar work from Blitzen Trapper's Eric Earley on a couple of songs. Know Better Learn Faster successfully builds off the trio's 2008 debut We Brave Bee Stings And All, with Nguyen's smoky alto and bluesy guitar remaining front and center. (www.thaomusic.com)
Author rating: 7/10
Average reader rating: 8/10