True Panther Sounds
Mar 21, 2012 Web Exclusive
Brooklyn's Tanlines seem like a pretty laid-back duo. They've put out music at their leisure, play a chilled-out live show, and happily embrace such taboo corners of the pop universe as calypso, tropicália and plastic stadium-pop. It's with wonderful suitability that Mixed Emotions replicates the same breezy joys they showed off on Settings two years ago. That EP's best song, "Real Life," is even here again at track eight. Instead of trying to change the world, they've kept to their wheelhouse and centralized on the best Tanlines-sounding record they could possibly generate.
Luckily there are plenty of flavors to their shtick. Smoky, crystallized dream-pop on "Brothers," streamlined electro-pop on "Green Grass," and skeleton-sparse on "Yes Way." These songs are built from the percussion up, and headnod, polyrhythmic patterns dominate the mix-vocals and synthesizers are there, usually serving as patches of texture to spice up the groove. It's boring on paper, but Tanlines have found a way to make it sound alarmingly beatific-like it's constantly inviting you to join its MPC-driven beach party.
The conclusion is "Nonesuch," which almost feels like a massive Madonna last-dance ballad. Titanic amphitheater drums and lyrics about a great, vague important thing—it's like a low-rent "Beth/Rest." It starts off cheesy, but settles into a hearty honesty—a worthy slab of pop music pastiche. For two resource-lacking dudes collaborating somewhere in New York, it's an impressive construction. Tanlines spend most of Mixed Emotions proving that they're a cut above the average electro-touched blog topic, and they've got the versatility and songwriting chops to build a long-player with a powerful shadow. Sure the vibes are smooth, but Tanlines work very hard to make it look easy. (www.tanlinesinternet.com)
Author rating: 7/10
Average reader rating: 9/10