Tancred – ‘Nightstand’ album review

Photo credit: Shervin Lainez

Following a tour with Julien Baker and ahead of autumn shows with The Joy Formidable, Jess Abbot’s Tancred has made a welcome return with fourth album ‘Nightstand’ (out now via Polyvinyl and Hand in Hive’. Produced by Lewis Pesacov (Best Coast), this record finds the Maine-based singer-songwriter opening up her heart about the importance of human interaction, the power and pain of loneliness and how it feels to be a queer woman in modern society.

‘Song One’, appropriately enough, opens the album and finds Jess offering a promise to you: ‘I will not lie to you, these words will be true’. This could be the mantra for the album as honesty is such a key theme. With Anna Burch-style observations, Jess admits that she loved someone but then poignantly asks ‘why must she love someone else?’ Following this is ‘Queen of New York’ with its compelling combination of Jimmy Eat World-esque hooks and grooving bass lines. Jess offers a rolling narrative account of a one-night stand (and the morning after: ‘gonna join the ranks of people with no sleep and last night’s make-up on’). Its huge chorus celebrates lust perfectly: ‘You like to have fun. Make a joke and I’m done for’.

‘Apple Tree Girl’ has an acoustic opening with talk of playing piano and chancing cocaine while the bass-led ‘Clipping’ finds Jess pondering over her life decisions and explaining how she lost herself ‘in a picture of someone else’. You can’t help but feel for her and her anxieties about fitting in, especially when she then goes on to admit ‘I’m a loser sometimes’ and ‘I will lose my mind sometimes’. Following this is the upbeat drums and handclaps of ‘Someday Else’ – a Wavves-esque pop song that you just know will be a live favourite from the very first note.

Introspective, observational and occasionally cutting, ‘Just You’ opens with the intriguing lines ‘she thinks you’re a shirt. She hangs you up for a week. I have permission to rent but never can I keep. And she wears you in front of the mirror and she takes you off when you don’t fit her’ and looks at how people treat others for their own benefit. Recent single ‘Reviews’ covers similar feelings but this time is more focused on the ‘build them up, knock them down’ approach of the modern media. The record closes with ‘Rowing’, which finds Jess talking about her mental health (‘The world is pretty when I’m up high… The world is easy when I get high’) in the context of people including street entertainers and kids having fun.

With poignant observations about life in the modern world surrounded by so many alluring hooks, this is an important and timely record from a huge talent.

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