With the creeping normalisation of blog-propelled firework careers monopolising our ever-excitable music press, Tanlines‘ slow rise is a refreshing yarn. The Brooklyn duo’s components are themselves anything but fresh faces. Eric Emm was a member of Don Caballero in the late ‘90s and has since produced for the likes of !!! and Professor Murder, his Tanlines partner Jesse Cohen’s project. This is their debut long player, but they’ve been making music for the last three years, dropping a pair of dazzling singles (one, ‘Real Life’ has wisely been featured here) and remixes that included a calypso-flecked take on Glasser’s ‘Apply’ and a club-friendly edit of Memory Tapes ‘Bicycle’. In fact, the trajectory of the group seemed to be towards a synthesis of dance-floor and global music, one that would end up as a genuine pop song as opposed to just a beat played for three minutes. To an extent that’s the form this record takes, but with a few additional tangents.
‘Brothers’ takes the lead as both the opener and first single for the record, but it’s largely atypical of the record as a whole. With its insistent electronic pulse, it hints at a dance influence they do not revisit again with such gusto. Even this track makes room for washes of guitar and dreamy synth lines. The group themselves have noted they aspire to make music that is danceable, but not necessarily capital-D, genre-strict Dance music, a dichotomous approach expressed strongly here. Proving there will to get people moving, there’s a tendency for post-Graceland afrobeat rhythms, the kind palatable to those with no taste for world music in general, that’s hinted at on ‘Abby’ and expounded fully in ‘Yes Way’.
But what makes the album special is their knack for big, emotional tunes, particularly what comes out in the record’s centre in tracks like ‘Not the Same’ and its euphoric ascent, or the effervescent strum of ‘Lost Somewhere’. The aforementioned ‘Real Life’ is very much the highlight, with the yearning refrain of “for a minute I was lost” forging a narrative that seems to be a search for something unknown. As much as it’s a record that explores a range of vibrant textures and tones, it’s also one that offers up an insight into the duo’s warm, inviting tunes. With both pulled off so well, it makes for an infectious and undeniable album.