Album Review: Mal Blum “Tempest In A Teacup”

feature image via Mal Blum

Brooklyn’s most adorable songwriter, Mal Blum, has a new album, Tempest In A TeacupIt’s so good, you guys. Have you been listening to it? Listen to it right now.

Mal Blum has supported lesbian icon and folk legend Melissa Ferrick on two tours, and has played shows with Jeffrey Lewis, Amanda Palmer and Kimya Dawson. Tempest In A Teacup is her fifth album. I have had it on constant repeat for weeks now.

via {Mal Blum}

via {Mal Blum}

Tempest In A Teacup opens with “Overseas Now” (recorded with Melissa Ferrick),  my favorite on the album. Blum has a way of writing songs that will get stuck in your head for days (I sing “Baltimore” an unnatural amount purely due to its earworm status). This song is the perfect tune to listen to while breaking up with someone. Did everyone in Brooklyn get their heart broken immediately prior to recording their newest albums? “Overseas Now” features clever lines like “You’re a getaway vacation that I hoped would bring salvation. It did not.”

There’s a song about zombies. Zombies, everyone. Despite the general heartbreak of the first song, the entire album is optimistic and endearing, which seems to be Mal Blum’s signature style. Another standout on the album is “With Samson in Washington State”. While casually listening to this album in the background, this song had me pausing to check its title and I ended up replaying it about twelve times in a row. “With Samson in Washington State” is hauntingly beautiful, a real departure from her usually light style. Here’s an acoustic version of the track:

The one thing Blum has done particularly well on Tempest In A Teacup is the incorporation of surprising sounds in the tracks, such as the xylophoneglockenspiel (Mal Blum says so) in “Overseas Now,” the strings in “With Samson in Washington State,” or the waltzing keyboard melody in “The Difference.” Other tracks feature full rock ensembles, such as “Brooklyn,” but they don’t sound out of place on this heavily acoustic album. “Valentine’s Day” actually had me laughing out loud, mostly from the repeating line “Let’s stop cheating on each other.” It’s so sad, but so hilarious at the same time, a balance that Blum has perfected through her career.

Tempest In A Teacup just came out on May 6th. Have you listened to it? What are your favorite tracks? Buy Tempest In A Teacup on Bandcamp, Amazon and iTunes.

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Hansen is the DIY & Food Editor of Autostraddle.com and likes to spend most days making and cooking and writing. She is an MFA candidate in Creative Writing at Colorado State University in her free time.

Hansen has written 186 articles for us.

16 Comments

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    I preordered this, so glad I did.

    I also feel it’s worth noting that “Altitude (This Party Sucks)” contains the amazing chorus opener of:

    “Am I saying the wrong thing? Am I wearing the wrong thing?
    Am I saying the wrong thing while wearing the wrong thing? Oh no”

    Perfect social awkwardness anthem.

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    one time mal blum hung out in my apartment for a whole evening and we had a cheese plate and there was wine and it was the best night ever.

    also i am excited to listen to this album and i giggled out loud when hansen asked if everyone in brooklyn had their heart broken before recording their latest albums because haha yes probably.

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    Mal Blum is one of my favourite artists (which is always a good thing out here in the Northwest because it ups my hipster cred by millions), and it’s very much because of Autostraddle. I discovered her through a comment thread link, I think on an article about Taylor Swift (clear upgrade here should be apparent).

    Moral of the story, reading Autostraddle very thoroughly increases daily awesomeness by increments of awesomeness yet unmeasurable.

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    Ima jump in here as a percussionist and say it’s a glockenspiel in Overseas Now, not a xylophone. Unless this is one of those american things where the name is different? In that case I’ll pipe down.

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    I’ve been obsessed with Mal Blum for years now! I’m so excited to see her featured on AS.

    I love that her albums have gotten so much more artistic and mature over the years. Don’t get me wrong, I love the upbeat and more folksy tone of her first album (Goodnight Sugarpop), but the lyrics in her newest album especially are downright hauntingly beautiful. Anyway, I will shamelessly promote her to everyone till the day I die because her soul is made of sunshine and rainbows.

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