Tiña – ‘Positive Mental Health Music’ review: South London cowboys turn emotional turmoil into riveting outsider ballads

Their debut album – and cult label Speedy Wunderground's first full-length release – seals these cowboys as a serious entity in modern day psych

Armed with pink cowboy hats and a wayward slacker spirit, Tiña are fitting candidates to be delivering the first full-length album through cult label Speedy Wunderground [Squid, Black Midi]. Since being spotted by producer Dan Carey during a sweaty night at Deptford venue The Bunker a few years back, the nonchalant psych-pop bunch have felt poised for outsider greatness.

As the straight-talking title suggests, debut album ‘Positive Mental Health Music’ comes as a body of songs that singer/songwriter Joshua Loftin used to work through a mental breakdown. With the current climate more uncertain than ever, the themes of tackling anxiety, depression, isolation, fear and failure are apt.

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Meandering psych opener ‘Buddha’ sets a meditative yet colourful tone. “I put my wash out at 1pm / and everyone I know is doing better than me”, he croons wistfully, a diary entry of the more mundane elements of mental health challenges. There’s an undercurrent of light which comes through his strained vocals; “I hope this song does something for someone / and if not at least I’ve done a song.”

Early single ‘I Feel Fine’ comes as the first sprawling jam, evoking the free-flowing vintage tones of Brian Jonestown or Black Angels while lyricism vividly depicts Loftin’s coping techniques. “The only time I feel fine / is when I’m writing it down”, he offers backed by whirling keys and a rolling bassline.

A dreamy quality punctuates the record from start to finish, no clearer than on ‘Growing In Age’ where woozy keys grow stormily into an agonising and unsettling vocal release. A defining moment comes with ‘Golden Rope’ which drags the album into scrappier territory and the yelping lines bring to mind the likes of Fat White Family or Car Seat Headrest. ‘People’ comes as an apt closer with a painfully high-pitched whine, striving to find solidarity and togetherness at the end of a serious bout of anxiety or depression.

‘Positive Mental Health Music’ is chaotic and warm at the same time but there’s star quality at every turn. It’s not always comfortable, but this is a confident and brazen debut that channels emotional turmoil into something positive and familiar. As well as being a champagne moment for Dan Carey and Speedy Wunderground – who have been an unstoppable force for alternative music in recent years – this seals these cowboys as a serious entity in modern day psych.

Details

  • Release date: November 6
  • Record label: Speedy Wunderground/PIAS
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