Rising atop the release schedule on the increasingly more prolific Blisscent Records, Tyko's A Long Way from One to Zero harkens back to many of dream-pop's initial purveyors -- namely Slowdive, Ride, and Swervedriver. However, Tyko dangerously veers towards being derivative and plagiaristic while swallowing large amounts of pop radio. Subsequently, A Long Way is an album caught between polarizing worlds of sound where innovation is few and far between.
Satisfyingly, the opening track entitled "Circles Not Squares" spends a full three minutes exploring the celestial sounds of fuzzy dream-pop before the vocals break to the fore. This introductory track had my ears pinned to my speakers at once with hopes of discovering an album capable of exploring otherworldly sounds and expanding our sonic parameters. Unfortunately, I was let down. Bookending the album, the first and last tracks on A Long Way are the only songs pleasantly exempt from the strict pop dynamics that entrap the remainder of Tyko's album.
Unlike the album's seven song midsection, the closing track, "And the Lights Go Out", is a freeform drone experiment that drifts and bends in every direction, enveloping the listener in a warm, multihued world. On A Long Way's other heavily structured tracks, Tyko filter their weightless synth textures and space-induced guitar figures into their regimented pop template only to have them watered down and tamed enough to have mass appeal. This, of course, stifles Tyko's great potential creativity as the album's highly mixed vocals and marginally relevant guitars only weigh A Long Way down more.
Resting as A Long Way's centerpiece is a cover of the Velvet Underground's "All Tomorrow Parties" which reveals a flaw in Tyko's rich musical template: they are content with merely rehashing the past, satisfied with conforming to a well-worn sonic stencil. What this quartet miss in their pinpointed influences of the Velvet Underground and My Bloody Valentine are that these two outfits made pop dynamics conform to them as they explored realms of unheard sound and reconfigured what it meant to push the proverbial envelope. And this is undoubtedly their greatest flaw: Tyko are comfortable with merely being a Ride sound-alike and little more than a Slowdive cover band
Of Tyko's pop-inflected moments, "Red and Clear" is undeniably the most effective as it wraps a genuinely catchy pop melody around guitars that jangle, sparkle, and shimmer simultaneously. Tyko are undoubtedly a pop band at heart and "Red and Clear" is the closest they come to achieving a great song. Unfortunately, much of A Long Way from One to Zero is inadequate and unsuccessful with songs that resonate with the dull din of pop radio. Ultimately, Tyko seems to be fighting a struggle of who to be: themselves or a parody of the requisite shoegaze pioneers. I sincerely hope they are not the same thing.