It can always be fun to listen to an album with a sense of chaos- surprising guitar solos, melodic changes, whatever. But it can be equally thrilling listening to an album where the musician at the helm seems to have full control. There’s a little bit of both on Total Entertainment by Tusks, the project of Samir Khan (who played with Snailhouse among other bands).
Khan apparently doesn’t pop up all too often with music, so when he does he seems to do well with what he brings. For the most part Total Entertainment is an exercise in control. This is shown most beautifully in the opener “Little Pirouettes.” It starts with a flurry of instrumentals that build to a majestic crescendo. The instrumentals then die down a little as Khan comes in with his vocals, and the song builds a second crescendo like magic.
Musically this album would be I suppose a pop album, but with some nice retro touches. Most charming are the background vocalists, and I always appreciate a good chorus of voices. Together with Khan the vocals make for some enchanting numbers.
“Family Arms” is a great upbeat song that blends two guitar lines. “We’ll get torn apart” is a repeated phrase in the song, oddly fitting for a song with “family” in the title. First single “In the Beginning/Give It Time” heads into the dreamy pop realm with great success thanks to the keys and gentle vocals from Khan.
Khan and co. really rock out on the pair of songs “Wake Them Up” and “Syllables.” The former has a sense of urgency thanks to the quick guitar, kick drum and sounds of an organ, before later giving way to an absolutely blistering guitar solo. The latter has a constant intensity, a stark contrast to the crafted and softer sounds that inhabit the rest of the album.
Though only eight songs, Total Entertainment manages to be almost totally entertaining (if you’ll forgive the wordplay). It’s available through Bandcamp.
Top Tracks: “Little Pirouettes”; “Wake Them Up”
Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)