Physical Violins is the newest EP from US artist Steve Voss, also known as Tetherball. Recorded in an abandoned warehouse in the wasteland of Nashville, the EP is the second instalment of a six part series set for release across 2016.
Tetherball’s first EP, Pheromone Food, was a friendly, jazzy, carefree introduction to the band’s unique and distinguishable sound. If Pheromone Food was the voice of a young boy naively but cheerfully bumbling through the world, Physical Violins is his older brother – undoubtedly born of the same family, but with more mature and much darker undertones. Voss’ newest down-the- rabbit-hole creation seems to be much more experienced; focusing on escapism, he views his surroundings and the way he experiences the world through the characters he meets.
The EP explodes into first track ‘Tornado Games’ with a much heavier and more rugged intro than we usually hear from Tetherball, but Voss manages to balance the usual happy, melodic sound with this heavier vibe, which promises Physical Violins to be far from simply a repeat of Pheromone Food with some slightly different lyrics. ‘Tornado Games’ is the strongest track on the EP, exploring the mental struggles of a character wanting to be saved, whether it be by a God or by a lover or by himself. Voss’ intelligent use of lyrics such as “you tell me to calm my mind / while I’m watching bovine fly” allows the song to discuss sensitive topics such as religion, mental illness and relationship breakdown while still managing to uphold a pleasant vibe.
Following on very fittingly from this, second song ‘Greedy Tiger’ seems, lyrically, to answer the question of saviours posted in ‘Tornado Games’. An alter ego and inspiration to those with internal struggles, ‘Greedy Tiger’ fights his enemies and chooses to save himself amidst groovy instrumentals, recognisable from the artist’s last EP. While not the most original song melodically, the track is a feel-good inspiration to everyone who wishes they could be a bit more like ‘Greedy Tiger’.
Third track ‘Gladiate’ is the epitome of Tetherball-ness with sassy, punchy lyrics and bouncy melodies aplenty. Similar to the likes of Darwin Deez, this is exactly the type of song that really defines and cements Tetherball’s often bold, cheeky, loveable sound.
In true, unpredictable Tetherball style the final song on the EP ‘War (Medic)’ is an odd one – a love story between an injured soldier and a medic. Lyrically, musically and in terms of the identity of the main character. it’s an interesting song, and it’s certainly different. Yet, it feels slightly uncomfortable among the other tracks on the EP and leads to a slightly awkward closure.
Physical Violins is another strong EP from Tetherball (and with much better album artwork).