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Tapir!'s The Pilgrim, Their God and the King of My Decrepit Mountain

At first glance, South London six-piece Tapir!’s debut album, The Pilgrim, Their God and the King of My Decrepit Mountain, is what you’d expect from well-executed, elegant indie folk. Vocalist Ike Gray breathes folk into the album with earnest melodies and a voice that carries just the right touch of plaintive whine. Folkier still is the liberal use of natural imagery, both in writing and in sound. Grassy knolls, sandy shores, and birds and their feathers dot the lyrical landscape, while spoken word interludes are backed by samples of ocean waves and seabirds. Yet, to describe it as standard indie folk would be a profound disservice. 

Image Credit: Tapir!

Perhaps the album’s most prominent distinction is its three-act structure. Set in a mythical landscape, the album follows the journey of a lone traveler, The Pilgrim, who is represented by the red figure on the album’s cover, through run-ins with fantastical beasts, roaring oceans, and moments of self-reflection. Each act is prefaced by a narrated interlude consisting of a short, four-line stanza that leaves plenty of space for the scene-setting instrumentation to breathe.

Indeed, one of the album’s greatest strengths is its tasteful instrumentation, which varies from sparse to lush without overdoing either. Switching up the archetypal acoustic arrangements of folk, Tapir! propels songs forward using skittery electronic drumbeats, instilling them with greater urgency than is typical for the genre. My personal favorite musical flourish can be found near the end of “Eidolon,” in which an earlier melody, pitched up this time, is adopted by an acoustic guitar. The crisp and twangy sound—you can hear the tautness of the strings—is familiar and comforting.

It is in creating these little moments of pure, unforced sentiment that Tapir! excels.


Olivia Zhao is a freshman in the MSB hoping to major in Business & Global Affairs. 

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