Far be it from indie rock to ever do something ironically, but it never made much sense that so much of the bands to have taken up the cause of glamorizing beach imagery or choosing to invoke the coast by name never really sounded all that beachy. Not that one need mine Dick Dale or Jan and Dean in order to legitimize correlation to sunshine, but the most guilty culprits, typically chillwave, generally sound too melancholy to actually be able to enjoy an afternoon on the sand with a beer and a chest slathered in sunscreen. Tanlines, however, seem a little more intent on living up to their melanin moniker, taking inspiration not just from the beach in general, but more specifically Ibiza, their new album Mixed Emotions blending synth-driven indie pop with Balearic beats that, while not always a guaranteed party, at least sound less terrified of UV rays.
Jesse Cohen and Eric Emm keep the vibe breezy and laid back throughout the majority of Mixed Emotions, their beat-driven jams less bangers than mid-afternoon toe tappers, often pretty and serene, and occasionally acting on the compulsion to get some kind of dance party, however understated, off the ground. “All of Me” is a good example of energy winning over lethargy, a persistent beat thumping beneath Emm’s vocals and a steady pile-on of synthesizer and sampled voices. And “Not the Same” takes a similar idea and makes it even more soaring, Emm expressing a more palpable emotion than he does in the majority of the album.
These highlights reveal what Tanlines are capable of when inspired to seek more expressive ground, though by and large Mixed Emotions is a pretty laid back affair. The laughter at the end of “Abby” may signify a party, but the song itself is better suited for lazing in a hammock, and the lovely “Lost Somewhere” allows enough of a cool breeze to accommodate either the impulse to dance or just a warm, relaxing three-minute pop music getaway. It’s to Tanlines’ credit that Mixed Emotions actually sounds like a vacation, rather than a melancholy memory.
Video: Tanlines – “All Of Me”
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.