KIRAHVI NIMELTÄ TUIKE
|Years active:||Genres:||Related artists:|
|Late 2000s - early 2010s (?)||Pop/Rock||n/a|
- 2010: Lehtipeitteen suojelijat
|Release year:||Rating:||Key tracks:|
|2010||8||"Lennon", "Kaikki pienet koirat", "Tulikettu"|
1) Lennon; 2) Vartija; 3) Kaikki pienet koirat; 4) KKAR; 5) Aleksanteri; 6) Tulikettu; 7) Askeleet rannalta; 8) Hurma; 9) Yö laulaa; 10) Vaapukkamehulaulu
Your favourite cartoon themes formed a band. Just as fun as it sounds.
If kick-ass cartoon theme tunes (think classic 80s US titles, or vintage anime) formed a band, you’d probably get Kirahvi nimeltä Tuike.
The fact that this concoction is a thing that a group of people decided to make their thing is a tad preposterous on its own, but the sheer conviction that Kirahvi nimeltä Tuike has for it is unbelievable. The music on Lehtipeitteen suojelijat is a rainbow explosion of glimmering keyboards and video game synths, the most obvious tie to any ‘real world’ music are hints towards the grand Nordic prog-pop traditions, and the lyrics are prosaic narrations about brave young heroes and their animal companions (or animal heroes) delivered in a verbose, storyteller-like fashion that’s not too far away from the kind of nutshell premise-laying so many animations start with. The band are called “A Giraffe Named Twinkle”, for crying out loud. But there’s no tongues lodged in cheeks, no wink and a nod that would hint at some sort of self-aware ridiculousness or trendy irony behind the scenes. Instead, the songs are delivered determinedly straight-faced. The themes are so over the top when in contrast to so much of other music out there but KTN’s unwavering belief in their own style lends it a sense of genuinety that gives it a foot on the ground. You can hear the it in the delivery too, and that makes the chosen direction all the more powerful. Fist-pump for the hero dogs, for the superhero foxes, for the plucky wanderers out to defeat evil.
KTN’s music is also obscenely bright and ludicrously glittery, in a way that I wouldn’t bark at anyone calling it cheesy, but the band’s approach to songwriting is to cover absolutely every ground with big melodies, and it’s a perfect bedfellow for the technicolour audio. It’s actually quite exciting: it’s a disarmingly charming approach, full of genuine giddiness that takes over, a ray sunshine filling the room from the speakers. And whilst they play these melodies in a very direct fashion, there’s an off-kilter sensibility that persists throughout the album and moves the verse-chorus-verse songs a little more off the beaten path. “Tulikettu” breaks into a synth-freakout right after a spoken word section that comes out of nowhere, “Kaikki pienet koirat” threatens to be a huge centerpiece but its choruses are surprisingly laidback in a really alluring fashion, and “Askeleet rannalta” takes a semi-synthpop approach which feels like the kind of natural band evolution we’d see a few albums on, making an early bird cameo. “Yö laulaa” is the culmination of this, bringing forth the prog-pop core closest to the surface as it ebbs and flows with its smooth, water-like melodies, closing with a sequence of shapeshifting instrumental sections which each sound more ambitious and exciting (and excited) than the last. When the band take it straight, their surprising influences make themselves known in the clearest way: “Lennon” genuinely feels like a theme song to a lost animation series, extended into a full-length anthem. It’s pulled off perfectly as well and a really intriguing thing to behold: and for someone like me who has had a fair number of cartoon-related songs all over my hard drive, it hits those vibes excellently.
The lyrics do play some role to it. Kirahvi nimeltä Tuike are creating their own mythos here - a pantheon of heroes of all sizes and fur coats and a lot of giraffes - and the band sing their tales like they were honoured anthems, with a stylistic earnestness and directness of any great opening theme that needs to hook you in straight away while still clearly introducing each character. They form a huge part of the album’s own personality as well, being deeply tied to the very concept of the band. As such, there is a certain kind of language barrier here that has made KTN an awkward album to recommend, because when so much of the album’s charm is based on its curious lyrical themes and they’re all delivered in obscure moonspeak, part of the record is bound to get lost in translation for many. Fortunately though, Lehtipeitteen suojelijat is rather fun just on purely musical terms as well. The obvious infectiousness of the hooks is one thing, but there’s a good deal of really good playing and very neat ideas from a purely musical standpoint here, too: an arrangement and instrumental know-how which are present throughout the album underneath the vocals, from the charming retro game synths to the brilliant bass lines gliding beneath every song. There’s a couple of full instrumentals punctuating the tracklist too to prove a point, even if their place on the album is more to support the rest of the tracklist. The interlude-esque “KKAR” demonstrates that the band do not necessarily need the vocals and lyrical material to create something distinct, with the band’s obvious video game soundtrack inspirations coming to surface the most. “Vaapukkamehulaulu” on the other hand surprises with a moody post-rock vibe that tucks the album into bed with a suddenly dramatic swerve and demonstrates that there’s more than one trick to KTN. Both give a larger spotlight to the actual musical side of the band and while they’re not as in-your-face as the album’s main songs, they do show off elements that otherwise might get a little more lost under the vocals, or in the case of the latter a side of the band we haven’t seen before.
Sadly Lehtipeitteen suojelijat seems to have been the only proper album KTN ever released, with the band largely vanishing beyond some internet freebies in the following years. It’s a shame. I readily admit that my overall musical knowledge is more the breadth of a comfortably sized lake than even the tiniest ocean, but the lyrics and music combined quite unlike anything I’ve come across from an artist without a TV or game tie-in. That’s commendable - four young guys from Finland creating something unique and truly their own, and backing it up with a set of superb songs full of heart.
Physically: Jewel case with a simple booklet slip with credits. When I ordered this I also got a poster of the full cover image.
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