Tanlines’ debut full-length album “Mixed Emotions” sounds like it belongs on a hipster’s iPod, a Caribbean beach, a dirty basement music venue and an ‘80s prom dance floor all at once. The resulting combination is surprisingly fantastic.
The band consists of Jesse Cohen and Eric Emm who are no strangers to the underground music scene. The two played in other bands before working together on a few indie remixes together. The pair stuck together to release two singles and an EP before this first LP.
Soon, the duo was touring across the U.S. and Europe with the likes of The Strokes’ frontman Julian Casablancas. On top of that, Jimmy Douglas – a four-time Grammy Award winning engineer – mixed the piece. The bar has been set high, and it seems that they have readily met expectations with positive critical responses as well as acceptance by fans.
The songs on the album range from mellow summer jams to pounding pop anthems. Nearly cheesy ‘80s keyboards and Emm’s low baritone vocals dominate the sound of each track.
The drums range from light and electronic to heavy and effects-laden. African-style drums and hefty helpings of auxiliary percussion throughout garnish most tracks and sometimes they drive the track, like on the single, “Real Life.”
The addition of shimmering electric guitars gives many of the songs a distinct summertime feel. Songs like “Lost Somewhere” are screaming to be in an ‘80s teen flick driving montage. A day on the beach and a drive with the windows down would be the perfect canvas for this album’s paint.
The lighthearted and carefree music is balanced by the somewhat melancholy lyrical style. The band manages to be mellow and relaxed without being depressing, while driving beats and intricate background percussion require some kind of dancing without forcing it.
Fans of typical dance floor music or typical indie fare may be disappointed by the album’s relatively stripped down sound. The beautiful production allows the songs to be clear and uncluttered without being empty, and just full and complex enough to not be overwhelming.
Although the individual parts of Tanlines’ style are not completely original or new, their careful and unusual combination adds up to a unique and unexpectedly great sound.
Rating: 3 1/2 stars out of 5