tUnE-yArDs - sketchy.
Critic Score
Based on 24 reviews
2021 Ratings: #176 / 422
User Score
Based on 198 ratings
2021 Ratings: #294
Liked by 4 people
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Ultimately, by opening up melodically as well as rhythmically, Garbus and Brenner better reveal the big heart at the centre of Tune-Yards.

Anger is the fuel for Sketchy. — anger at misogyny, gentrification, power structures, but also one’s own role in those systems — but the record itself isn't angry, fizzing instead with a creative fire.

The Skinny

Despite its name, there’s nothing ambiguous about Tune-Yards’ return. They’re back with bombast and the permission to take a breather if it all gets too much.


‘Sketchy’ takes the best, feral pulses from tUnE-yArDs’ DIY material and the richest sounds of later records in its doubling down on societal crises.


More grown-up and considered, this could be a new peak for tUnE-yArDs and they couldn’t have timed this release any better for society’s collective sanity if they tried.


Though unlikely to win over those who weren’t already fans, ‘sketchy.’ is a more mature offering than previous Tune-Yards records though still retains much of the tripped-out whimsy that first made them so infectious.

The Arts Desk

By album number five, most bands are finding it difficult to muster something fresh. Not so here. While Sketchy is full of hooky tunes and immediately identifiable as Tune-Yards, it’s also bubbling over with inventiveness.

The Line of Best Fit

Sketchy is a bold album in so many ways but it’s also incredibly, comfortingly Tune-Yards: High energy, offbeat movements, looped vocals, powerful cries, incredible rhythms, a belief that fighting for what is right is the only option.

The Guardian

Themes of climate disaster, gender dysphoria and fighting privilege bubble up through a discomfiting but enjoyable sonic deluge.

The Irish Times

Sketchy is a type of treatise on this ambivalence – critiquing systems while participating in those systems.


tUnE-yArDs haven't sounded this infectious since Nikki Nack, and Sketchy. captures the inflection point where frustration becomes positive action in funky, happy, angry, and inspiring ways.

The Sydney Morning Herald

You’re never quite sure where you’re being led, and that’s a large part of the appeal.

Rolling Stone
Merrill Garbus’ body- rattling mutant New Wave is at once thrilling and decentering, but it’s her incisive songwriting that makes her fifth LP a treat.

It's the artist's duty to sing and dance, teach and sermonize. Tune-Yards practice what they preach there, even if their conclusions may seem a bit... sketchy.


Garbus and Brenner may have gotten back in touch with the basics of what makes them love music, but their sound remains much the same—in the best way possible.

Northern Transmissions
The music is deep rooted in production and is not easily digestible but long time fans will surely find something to enjoy. Others, might just favour the silence on track six.
Beats Per Minute

sketchy. may not be their out-and-out best work, but it’s proof that they still have the guts and the songwriting ability — as well as their ever-present, obvious earnestness and candor — to do what endeared so many to their work in the first place.

The Needle Drop

Sketchy is a nice bounceback for Tune-Yards.

Loud and Quiet
It’s easy to overlook how effortlessly Tune-Yards make songs about self-doubt sound so curiously stirring.

If you’re happy to just off on some soaring, joyous and celebratory music – even when the message is a little less sunny – then this is for you. The sound of Tune-Yards really hitting their stride and honing their art to new refinement - rather than new extremes.


Amongst the crowd of artists desperately clamouring for cultural relevance, sketchy. manages to say something genuinely meaningful.


Tune-Yards are always going to be an acquired taste for some people, and while this album mixes the accessible with the avant-garde, there will probably be people who are left cold by the restless energy and sometimes overtly meandering melodies.

The Forty-Five
Loose optimism and tight despair drive the album in equal measure, and while sometimes ‘sketchy.’ is too vague to land, at other moments, it shoots straight at the heart
Record Collector
In making room for the tunes in their Yards-space, they have etched out a fresh start on their own terms.
After a four year break between their third and fourth album said fourth album receiving mixed reception, and three more years until this newest release, it feels as though a lot of the excitement and conversation surrounding tUnE-yArDs has died down. I was more forgiving of “I can feel you creep into my private life” than most, and I somehow forgot this album was even coming out today until I saw it downloaded at the top of my library. It’s a shame that this record might be ... read more
What a bouncy record, I don't know why but kinda reminded me of early BEP songs. Tune-Yards are a special group and they know exactly what they doing in every track, the production is fine.
Indie Pop is always a coin toss for me. Much like the Black Honey album I can see what’s enjoyable here somewhere between #coastalcafecore and vibing R&B moments which grab your attention but don’t inspire me to hurry back.
This album is so...different...and I liked it! Experimentally it reminds a lot of U.S. Girls and St. Vincent, but tUnE-yArDs has its own way to express their abstract rustic sounds based on more sunny and vivid elements, which is great. Moreover, in terms of vocals, there's a huge versatility that impresses a lot. It seems to be a siesmic vocal experience. Less but not least, I'm a huge fan of albums that deconstruct standards in music (sonically, vocally and lyrically), and ... read more
A really impressive comeback for Tune Yards! One of their more consistent records in recent years, consisting of abrasive, but super soulful sounds. A very fun and wild record from the duo.
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Track List

  1. nowhere, man
  2. make it right.
  3. hypnotized
  4. homewrecker
  5. silence pt. 1 (when we say “we”)
  6. silence pt. 2 (who is “we”?)
  7. hold yourself.
  8. sometime
  9. under your lip
  10. my neighbor
  11. be not afraid.
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Added on: January 27, 2021