Release Date: Mar 20, 2012
Record label: True Panther Sounds
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
Jesse Cohen and Eric Emm fill their debut with jubilant dance clatter and interlocking synthesizer and guitar riffs – it’s a propulsive, polychromatic sound you might call Jewfro-beat. Cohen, on key boards and percussion, keeps the sounds surprising: chintzy faux steel drums here, moody Eighties synths there. The results, which flirt with kitsch but never succumb to it, can be unexpectedly poignant.
It’s been extremely intriguing to watch the evolution of Eric Emm and Jesse Cohen’s Brooklyn based, indie dance project Tanlines since their first single “New Flowers” appeared from the music blogosphere ether in 2008. And while, almost immediately, there was discussion regarding the supposed dissonance in sound between Tanlines and Emm and Cohen’s former projects (math rock legends Don Caballero and jittery dance punk outfit Professor Murder, respectively) “New Flowers,” a swift, bongo and synth laden dance tune accented by wordless harmonies, was actually an example of how the duo combined the intricate, jazzy flourishes of Don Cab with the pulsing sheen of contemporary dance music to forge a more cerebral, less ephemeral version of the Tough Alliance. Fast forward to the release of Tanline’s first proper EP, Settings in 2010, where the six track song list was split evenly between winding, island-infused, mostly instrumental numbers and infectious dance-pop tracks showcasing Emm’s unusually limber baritone.
If something to dance to is what you’re after, listen no further than Tanlines—though the results are a little, well, mixed. Eric Emm and Professor Murder’s Jesse Cohen’s debut LP makes great tunes for an aggressive, exhaustive dance party (or a cruise), but though the production value is exquisite at the hands of its creators and mixer Jimmy Douglass (Timbaland, Aaliyah), it’s hard to say what it all amounts to apart from a collection of partly-cloudy-late-afternoon-sunshine, on-and-off ’80s jams. .
Their song “Real Life” has been floating around since 2010, but with Mixed Emotions, Tanlines finally have an album’s worth of material. Vocalist and keyboardist Eric Emm pairs well with multi-instrumentalist Jesse Cohen, and throughout their debut they manage to blend some dance floor-worthy pop gems with the sound of the ‘80s in a way that differentiates them from the many others who have gone that route. “All of Me” and “Yes Way” position Tanlines as a dance party-starting band in a vein similar to that of Vampire Weekend channeling Paul Simon’s Graceland – but don’t let that fool you.
"Sometimes I wonder if because I make a lot of jokes here, people might think we don't take our music seriously…" Tweeted Jesse Cohen from his band Tanlines' account earlier this month, in anticipation of the Brooklyn synth-pop duo's debut full-length release, Mixed Emotions. "Simply put, neither Eric [Emm] nor I have ever taken anything in our whole lives more seriously than the work we put into this album," Cohen continued. "It couldn't possibly mean more to us.
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.
TanlinesMixed Emotions[True Panther; 2012]By Weston Fleming; March 29, 2012Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGMP3: Tanlines - "Brothers" By now, we’ve at least grown weary of the phenomenon that is the old internet single making its way onto the debut album. There are those favorable examples like Cults’ “Go Outside,” which turned out to be a harbinger of an incredibly rich, conceptually-developed album; there are also more regrettable examples like “Pumped Up Kicks” that succeeded only in tricking us into listening to an awful album. For Tanlines’ Mixed Emotions, “Real Life” is that single: it’s a positively infectious, dynamic synth-pop tune that has resided on YouTube for over two years now.
Although they’ve been together since 2008 and on the blogosphere radar for a while now, Tanlines took their sweet time releasing a proper full-length debut. Mixed Emotions shows there’s good reason for that: While it shouldn’t be a surprise that skilled, experienced producer types like Jesse Cohen and Eric Emm could put together some well conceived and meticulous sounds, it’s not every day you hear a first album that’s such a polished product. Even though much has been made about the duo’s proficiency with polyrhythms and Afropop-isms, what stands out about the twosome is something more plain and simple: its straight-up electropop chops, in the form of hummable keyboard lines and stuck-in-your-head choruses.
Tanlines' first full-length record, Mixed Emotions, is fittingly titled. There are two possible reactions to hearing these songs crafted by the duo of Eric Emm and Jesse Cohen. The first is a warmly pleasant feeling as the gently rollicking rhythms, subtle washes of synths, woody percussion fills, and gauzy arrangements drizzle over the listener like steamy bathwater.
Since forming out of the ashes of dance punk hopefuls Professor Murder and their subsequent offshoot, Restless People, Brooklyn, NY's Tanlines (Eric Emm and Jesse Cohen) have taken the leisurely route to releasing their debut album. Dropping debut single "New Flowers" in 2008 (the year they formed) and then the half-instrumental Settings EP two years later, Mixed Emotions arrives more than a year after its projected date. What began as a very loose, club-oriented production style has fluidly evolved into some deeply affecting, euphoric pop on Mixed Emotions.
The debut LP from Tanlines is titled Mixed Emotions for good reason: The story of this record’s conception and development is a bipolar one. The Afro-house duo, consisting of Eric Emm (formerly of math-rock noodlers Don Caballero) and Jesse Cohen (of Professor Murder) started as a project between friends and quickly blossomed into a New York sensation, with shows at the Guggenheim and opening sets for Julian Casablancas. And then, after a European tour that was lukewarm at best, the duo came to the realization that sunny beach beats weren’t enough.
After piercing the public consciousness with ‘Volume On’, Tanlines are back with their first album proper under the guidance of mixing engineer Jimmy Douglass (Timbaland, Roxy Music, Television). Musically we are in the tropical pop territory occupied by the likes of Friendly Fires and Vampire Weekend, a giddy amalgam of electronica, afro-beat and retro pop that is a thinking man’s dance-floor. Where this works best is on the thrilling ‘Not The Same’, a four to the floor monster that teases like a chunkier Drake ‘Take Care’ complete with finger clicks before stripping the whole thing down to it’s bare vocal bones .
A peppy, optimistic set, but lacking original thought and ultimately a bit dated. Natalie Hardwick 2012 Male bonding and pop are comfortable bed partners. A complex bond between musical brothers that facilitates prime artistic flow, a sacred bond concealed from the outside world – and thankfully so. Heck, there’s even a band named after the notion.