Sunday, January 16, 2011

Tanlines - Volume On review

Let me just start off by addressing what I know is on everyone's mind.  Yes, that is a Mini Disc on the cover of Tanlines' debut album Volume On.  I am not entirely sure what possessed the Brooklyn duo to use it as their album cover, and the fact that the hand written label reads "Lauren Hill" does little to offer any insight, rather it makes the mystery even more confounding.

Mini Disc or not, Tanlines have made a name for themselves as an experimental Afropop, electro chillwave hybrid, and if you put as much stock into genre names as I do, that probably means very little to you.  The album itself has a distinct quality to it, shimmering guitars and the use of non-traditional percussive instruments offer a very tropical vibe, which, given the fact that it is the middle of winter, will either cheer you up or depress you immensely.

There are a few standout tracks here, most notably "Real Life", which has become the bands signature track, however the entire album operates on a very simple formula.  It is a barrage of color, each song working to transport you to some sort of island getaway.  Normally I would say that this is welcome, the instrumentation is fun, but different enough to seem refreshing without being so foreign as to alienate its listeners.  The problem I have with the album is just that, it is an album.  With a run time that creeps past the one hour mark, it starts to become difficult to differentiate between the songs.  Especially when each song tries so hard to deliver that feel of escapism that it begins to seem as though someone is using your head as a percussion instrument along with the steel drums and wood blocks.

Tanlines are an interesting band for the reason that they are creating music that isn't just a cardboard cutout of every other Brooklyn-based buzzband.  The difficulty in listening to Tanlines is the fact that one can only handle it in small doses.  After the first few songs, the tropical vibes that permeate the album begin to flow into one another almost too easily, making the album seem like one really long elevator ride in the Caribbean.  That being said, Tanlines show a lot of promise, and Volume On is not only a daring piece of experimental pop music, but it is a solidly composed, catchy and fun collection of material.  The only problem that keeps rearing its ugly head when I listen to this album is the feeling that, aside from a few tracks, I probably won't be listening to Volume On as a whole unless I am having some sort of island-themed house party.

Tanlines - Saw

Tanlines Volume On

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