Thao Nguyen got her start making enjoyable little ditties that verged on kid’s music, charming but limited. However, she’s since grown her musicality in interesting and compelling ways, now even more so on the unusual and captivating Temple.
Nguyen had already been expanding her sound, like on 2013’s Merrill Garbus (tUnE-yArDs) produced A Man Alive (QRO review), but she’s gone even further here, a real step forward & onward. Arrhythmic beats populate much of the record, akin to Fiona Apple’s recently acclaimed Fetch the Bolt Cutters (QRO review), but done in a wry, chill way, from the titular opener to the nicely relaxed closer “Marrow” (which also brings to mind another songstress with a “Marrow” piece, St. Vincent). The hollow rhythms and call out to “Phenom” make it memorable but also catchy, as with the near spoken word “Disclaim”.
Thao Nguyen could have stayed making little ditties and would have still been an enjoyable artist. Instead, she’s grown in impressive ways.