Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Thao & the Get Down Stay Down

  • We the Common [Ribbon, 2013] **
  • A Man Alive [Ribbon, 2016] A-

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Consumer Guide Reviews:

We the Common [Ribbon, 2013]
As she must know already, improving your rhythmic interactivity seldom enhances your romantic connectivity--they're just different realms ("We Don't Call," "The Feeling Kind") **

A Man Alive [Ribbon, 2016]
I suppose it's simplistic to credit friendly neighborhood producer Merrill Garbus with Thao Nguyen's great leap forward from Nguyen's intelligently cheerful indie-rock. But her fifth or seventh album sure does sound like Tune-Yards. Same disquieting harmonies, same hyperactive percussion, same general roil, with Thao's lighter, more unburdened voice delivering darkened lyrics that dwell on her up-and-gone father and "an endless love" with an unhappy ending. "Carve it on out of me," she implores again and again. But due to the music, this compulsion sounds like a strength--even a triumph. A-