I had no ‘Mixed Emotions’ about this album, just pure happiness.
The least interesting thing about Tanlines’ debut album Mixed Emotions is that the album cover seems to be an homage to Tears for Fears’ Songs from the Big Chair. Just looking at the plain, somewhat vanilla photo of Tanlines’ members Eric Emm and Jesse Cohen doesn’t exactly inspire confidence that Mixed Emotions is going to be a stunner of an album, even though one could argue that if we’re comparing this album to Tears for Fears’ Big Chair, I should expect good things. Well, I’m glad that I pre-judged this album so harshly before listening because my emotions were not mixed after hearing it; in fact, I was blown away by how good it is.
Mixed Emotions takes what Yeasayer and Vampire Weekend have done with world music and covers new emotional territory while maintaining a catchy dance atmosphere. While the duo is largely known for their remixing skills, Mixed Emotions proves that they can create bouncy, fun songs with no existing framework. And unlike Yeasayer, they’re not seeking to recreate a decade or period piece album like Odd Blood‘s ’80s Peter Gabriel worship. Tanlines borrow pieces from that decade but keep it to a minimum. Instead, they’re focused on keeping their sound decidedly modern.
Eric Emm injects the album’s songs with soul and heartfelt honesty. In “Real Life” Emm sings, “The trouble was I was alone” as he sings of moving to a new place and trying to find himself. The tin knocking percussion of “Real Life” maintains a proverbial cool during Emm’s singing. “Not The Same” could be the biggest moment on Mixed Emotions with its keyboard piano and surf guitar licks. Emm’s voice is more affected, reaching a new level of intensity as he sings, “We’re not the same / Tell everyone we haven’t changed / Tell everyone we’re not the same”. Emm isn’t afraid to experiment with his voice either as evident on the tropical sounding “Yes Way”, dropping to a lower register reminiscent of when a person does a tranny impression. Obviously it sounds prettier than that.
Mixed Emotions closes out with the chillwavy “Nonesuch”, a song that’s superior to anything released by the genre’s big three (Neon Indian, Washed Out, and Toro Y Moi) last year. Tanlines’ remixes must have just been practice sessions for what they’ve done on this album. The only real issue is that they’ve set the bar pretty high for themselves for what they release next. But until that day comes, my emotions are pretty secure about this album.
Purchase: Tanlines – Mixed Emotions