One of the most fruitless endeavors in being a music fan is to try to follow buzz bands. Breaking on the blogosphere before slowly ending up in commercials, movie trailers and seeping into your subconscious, these groups roar onto the scene before fizzling out quickly, like the world’s worst firework.
The last few years have been a dumping ground for these groups. Whether it was The xx, Bat for Lashes, Girls or Sleigh Bells, these groups usually put out a single, beloved album before fading from consciousness and being forgotten by the masses. I’m not saying these groups are bad. By all means, I liked what all of the above groups released, but they have an expiration date and it’s going to leave nothing but a bad taste in your mouth when you revisit them.
This is why I have some concern for Tanlines. After coming together in 2008, the NYC duo released their first official album, aptly titled “Mixed Emotions,” a few weeks ago to massive critical acclaim. That being said, I find it dull, repetitive and expected.
Independent rock has been struggling to survive the damage done to it by over saturation in the mid 2000s and to survive, most of them turned to gimmicks. Tanlines is no exception, cramming so many electronic effects into tribal drum and bongo backed beats that it plays like a combination of TV on the Radio and Animal Collective at their most self-indulgent.
That being said, some of the songs are sure to jump at listeners. “All of Me” is a great, extremely tight chunk of head-banging acid house mixed with a touch of dubstep and the spoken word-meets baritone crooning of LCD Soundsystem. It’s sure to be something of a hip club hit in the vein of MGMT’s “Kids.” Likewise, “Yes Way” manages to mix earnest emotion with a beat that you can’t help but dance to.
The problem comes in the form of a lack of nuance. Tanlines borrows heavily from all of the bands listed above, whether it’s in song style, pacing or eclectic instrument use. They even go so far as to actively steal the chorus of The Beach Boys classic “I Know There’s an Answer,” for their not even subpar electric death march, “Lost Somewhere.”
I felt like I was going back through a lot of my favorite records of all time while listening to Tanlines but instead of feeling nostalgic, it felt exploitative, calculated and capitalistic. While this sort of musical swiping is sure to land a deal soundtracking an episode of Jersey Shore, it doesn’t deserve to sully your iPod or be remembered in six months.