Album: Tuvaband – Growing Pains & Pleasures review

by Tom Welsh

Tuvaband’s third full-length offering arrives in ample time for its insights to carry universal appeal

Norway’s Tuvaband has had a slow-burn rise since arriving on the scene in 2016, taking in a Norwegian Grammy nomination, a run of highly acclaimed releases as well as personnel changes along the way. Now under the sole artistic vision of singer, songwriter and producer Tuva Hellum Marschhäuser, new album, Growing Pains & Pleasures, in turn feels like Tuvaband’s most intimate offering – or outpouring – to date.

Across its 12 tracks, Tuva’s scattered stanzas tell a story of change and a constant craving for life’s ever-moving tapestry, albeit with reservations about its trappings and threadbare constitution. Rather than meticulously crafting melodies atop the swathes of shimmering shoegaze sounds, Tuva often treats the music more as a canvas on which to daub Pollock-esque lashings of emotional assertions and searching questions, creating an intimate portrait of an artist unafraid of unfiltered, impulsive honesty.

The album was informed by a period of isolation for Tuva and the subsequent upheaval that comes with facing the world from a fresh perspective, evidenced by the mix of assuredness and insecurity in the lyrics, as well as the contrasting bluster and beauty of the music. What emerges is Tuvaband’s most diverse and accomplished work to date, with songs that invite immersion in their ethereal splendour only for tempo and mood changes to jolt the senses and demand renewed attention: Post Isolation is almost an 80s ballad until it strides into Big Thief territory for the chorus, whilst Irreversible moves between an off-kilter groove and a post-punk frenzy.

Opener Growing Pains is a highlight that sticks closer to form but still showcases Tuva’s ability to take the listener on a journey, with the spectacular rising vocal gradually blending with the almost-aquatic soundscape whilst the words provide a candid insight into the artist’s racing mind.

The most telling lines, however, are perhaps best found on Fully Mature Things, a sprawling and impassioned address that declares that ‘none of us are ever fully grown’ and warns that ‘fully mature things – they rot’ – a judgement that seems to have guided Tuva’s ever-evolving music and allowed her to create an album for our ever-changing times.

Read about some of the influences on this record and more in our Sound & Vision feature with Tuvaband

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