Friday, June 16, 2017

We're in the Minimall

It’s been six years since Ann Arbor’s own Tally Hall released Good & Evil, but the protean quintet’s legacy lives on in LA-based five-piece Minimall, whose first EP dropped today.

HUH! features five tracks, from the upbeat and melodious “My Full Moon” to the grooving and pensive “Pyrrhic Victory.” The single, “Don’t Tell Me,” has a fiery drive and is an absolute hook-fest—with fuzzy synths, compelling harmonies, and cathartic rhythms.

Minimall’s sound is unmistakably Tally Hall-ish: quirky and whimsical, sincere even in its cheekiness, at times poignant and melancholy. Tally Hall called it “wonky rock,” Minimall calls it “kitsch pop,” but the spirit is more or less the same.

Each song occupies a unique space both sonically and lyrically, keeping the EP fresh through its roughly seventeen-minute length. Where Tally Hall tended to focus on grandiose themes and self-referential absurdism, Minimall feels more grounded, focusing instead on imagery and a sort of classical symbolism.

Take these lines from “Pyrrhic Victory,” the final track:
We’ve only got ourselves to blame
The cannons, they fall, and they rust in the rain
The day still spins, despite complaints,
And you won’t feel the same
It’s hard to write about Minimall without referencing its antecedent. It wasn’t so long ago, after all, that Minimall was an all-female Tally Hall cover band called Titty Hall (commence guffaws or groans depending on your taste in puns). Minimall’s name references Tally Hall’s namesake, a now-defunct Farmington Hills foodcourt, and even the group’s wardrobe—coordinated pastel letterman jackets—harkens to Tally Hall’s color-coded necktie and white shirt combo that was essential to their image.

Tally Hall's neckties.

And while many of the musical similarities can be attributed to songwriting, there’s an additional “secret” ingredient in the form of Bora Karaca, a long-time Tally Hall collaborator and University of Michigan alum who engineered three of the tracks on Minimall’s EP.

While all of these similarities are evident, Minimall has enough individuality to keep them from sounding derivative. Most bands spend their earlier, mimetic years a bit more subtly, but Minimall has so far found a happy balance between tribute and originality that I suspect will only tilt in their favor as they continue making music.

In the meantime, check out HUH! for a dose of energetic kitsch pop that is both unconventional and—for all those wistful Tally Hall fans—pleasantly familiar.

Minimall will be performing at Ghost Light in Hamtramck on 6/24.
You can purchase HUH! at

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