New album by Tizzy Bac is more grown-up

Taiwanese indie band Tizzy Bac's new album Fragile is an ambitious epic which tackles life, death and the universe.

For example, the lyrics on Armstrong's One Small Step (I'll See You In My Dream) evoke the dizzying scale of Man's tiny existence: "No matter how clamorous the world/ Lift your head and you'll reach the universe/In that vastness, I am a shimmer of light."

It turns out that the American sitcom The Big Bang Theory (2007 to present) has something to do with this bout of star-gazing.

While writing songs for the album, lead vocalist and lyricist Chen Hui-ting, 36, fell "madly in love" with the show.

Speaking over the telephone from Taipei, she says: "It took obscure terms and ideas from physics, and placed them in an everyday context where they were discussed in a humorous manner.

"I wanted to do the same thing here and take what look like very big or serious questions and tackle them our way." The band also comprise bassist Hsu Chu-yu, 34, and drummer Lin Chien-yuan, 33. They perform at Switch by Timbre on Wednesday at 7.30pm.

Fragile is also a more mature album, say the band. Chen notes: "In our music previously, there were still some elements of youthful cutesiness. But this album is more grown-up from the arrangement, which is more epic in scale, to the content, which addresses time, life and the universe."

While the CD cover of If I See Hell, I Won't Fear The Devil (2009) features a pop-up of cartoony characters, it is not as though Tizzy Bac were previously singing about lollipops and rainbows.

From their first album Anything Can Tempt Me (2003), the band have always been drawn to the off-kilter. Their last record, The Tell-Tale Heart (2011), even took inspiration from Edgar Allan Poe's macabre tale of murder and insanity.

The band name itself reflects that quirkiness with its combination of tizzy because Hsu found it intriguing, and bac, a mis-spelling of the French word for "beak", bec.

The themes on Fragile might not be exactly new for them, but Chen points out the approach is different here. "In the past, we might have approached things like death and life from a more narrowly personal perspective, but now, we're taking more of a big-picture view."

Lin chimes in: "More like a young girl last time."

"And now, she's grown into a young woman," concludes Hsu.

In their early days, the band were even nicknamed complain-type singers.

Chen recalls that they were often asked back then for the genre of their music. Given that Tizzy Bac draw on an array of influences and styles, that has never been an easy question to answer. "But since everyone was looking for a label, we gave ourselves the tag of 'complain-type singers'."

So what epithet would they give themselves now? Hsu says: "Tizzy Bac."

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