Release Date: Oct 5, 2010
Record label: Virgin
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Adult Alternative Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Contemporary Singer/Songwriter, Alternative Pop/Rock, Contemporary Pop/Rock
Drastic Fantastic -- the spangly attempt at pop stardom consolidation -- didn’t catch on like it should have, but KT Tunstall doesn’t quite beat a retreat on its 2010 sequel, Tiger Suit. Sure, she’s reverted to contemplative photographs for her album art, but Tiger Suit isn’t a hermetically sealed sensitive singer/songwriter record, all quivering sincerity and strummed guitars. Fittingly for an album recorded at Berlin’s Hansa studio, where Achtung Baby and Heroes were cut, it is produced, polished, and textured, an album with movement and progression.
KT Tunstall became famous playing rootsy acoustic pop, but she has created what she's calling "nature techno" for this inventive follow-up to 2007's Drastic Fantastic, which merges her raspy folk with free-spirited campfire rhythms. Opener Uummannaq captures this shift in style with simmering snake rattles, a tribal-cry hook and a thunderclap beat, which is taken up again on the pulsing dance chorus of Lost. Seasick Steve adds a broody hum of guitar on Golden Frames and there's a bluesy feel in the driven twang of Push That Knot Away.
With commercial radio all about that urban groove thing these days, it’s little wonder that the Scottish singer KT Tunstall decorates her Lilith Fair-style songwriting chops with electro-pop beats on her third studio album, Tiger Suit. She mixes it up with California song doctors Linda Perry and Greg Kurstin, but this is no sellout move. Tunstall keeps enough off-kilter grit in her voice to make the claim in ”(Still a) Weirdo” stick.
Eat, pray, like it OK A series of spry, spirited pop meditations on love and lust and discovery, KT Tunstall’s third album sounds like the soundtrack for a film in which the successful, single protagonist finds herself by losing everything and falling in love. Tiger Suit is structured on sleek guitar backbones and sprinkled with synths, but the Scottish singer/songwriter also flirts with the blues (the sultry “Golden Frames”) and airty, elegant chamber-pop (“Lost”), both of which feel as natural and enjoyable as the more familiar hooky territory of “Come On, Get In. ” The latter is a sonic sister to “Black Horse and the Cherry Treee,” the title track of her 2005 album and it’s a step up from the ineffective lover’s plea “Difficulty” and the inexplicable “Madame Trudeaux”—two dull moments in an otherwise feel-good rom-com.
I have to admit, I wasn’t expecting much from KT Tunstall’s third solo album, Tiger Suit. I wasn’t a huge fan of her debut, Eye to the Telescope, but did enjoy a few choice tracks, such as “Under the Weather” and “Other Side of the World”. Her percussive-heavy, almost A-melodic, songwriting structure wore very thin and continuously bordered the banal.
After the punchy guitar-pop of her sophomore album, 2008’s Drastic Fantastic, failed to build on the multi-platinum success of her debut album and its ubiquitous hit singles, KT Tunstall makes a more bald-faced pop move on Tiger Suit. Seeing the CHR-Top 40 charts dominated by acts like Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, and Ke$ha, Tunstall and producer Jim Abbiss lean heavily on dance rhythms and ‘80s-inspired electronic textures in an effort to reclaim her place on radio and in rom-com trailers. Tunstall has taken to calling this stylistic maneuver “nature techno,” which is fairly apt in that the record’s production sounds badly dated—not to mention that it’s been a long while since anyone seriously described something as “techno.
Tunstall’s third album proves that a bit of “grrr” does the girl good. Matthew Horton 2010 It looks like a shapeless stripy jumper on the album cover, but KT Tunstall's Tiger Suit is her protection against the world, a clawed insurance in the face of critical brickbats and the pressures of having to go out there and be a star. It's served her well.
The bouncing country blues vibe of Scottish singer-songwriter KT Tunstall has, for the most part, all but gone. Tiger Suit wears a different skin than her previous recordings, and the highs and lows are obvious. Some blues still rocks and rolls beneath certain tracks, but it’s masked by ’80s percussion, synthy pop and dance beats that sound like they should be backing a hit, but with a tendency to irritate.