The Internal Tulips is the result of a long-term working relationship between Brad Laner and Alex Graham, both of whom are well familiar with laptop tinkering and the lush vocal harmonies that pop music affords. However, the latter hasn’t deliberately popped up in their music until this project.
Laner is probably best known for being the central member of Medicine as well as his experimental electronic offshoot Electric Company. Graham went under Lexanculpt and found himself surrounded by the digital bandits of labels like Tigerbeat6 and Planet Mu. Their individual strengths within rock and electronic music work to the duo’s advantage, allowing them to embrace a vocal pop aesthetic that would make Brian Wilson smile while simultaneously kicking conventional songwriting to the curb.
The slow maturation of their collaborative efforts speaks to the fragile beauty of the album. The delicate melancholy of “Arlie” dates back to 2004, yet shows no signs of age within its isolated piano and tender vocals. This is pop music conceived in dream sleep, or perhaps it’s a score-in-waiting for the next Harmony Korine or Charlie Kaufman screenplay. Even some arguably accessible songs have their own unpredictable twists and turns.
“Mr. Baby” keeps time with a light percussive knock, only to have the floor give away from under its feet. The tempo comes to a crawl as the song free falls, but its landing is cushioned by its poignant melody. “Songbird” is accentuated by a found sound thump, pulsating bursts of static, and yes…songbirds. “We Breathe” is propelled by a muffled drum loop, gorgeous vocal harmonies, and growing walls of guitar feedback.
It took years of experimentation to get Laner and Graham to this point, but the wait is well worth it. As The Internal Tulips, they have crafted a full-length bubbling over with emotion and adventurous production.