Tanlines – Volume On

It’s a curious line to spin as we head down into December; but Tanlines are everywhere at the moment. As well as popping up as co-authors of Restless People’s maiden set this month, Jessie Cohen and Eric Emm have lent their collective name to remixes of everyone from Glasser, to Bombay Bicycle Club to The Tough Alliance; bringing a touch of flamboyance and colour to proceedings, without exception.

The Brooklyn pair cut their teeth in now defunct acts Professor Murder and Don Caballero, respectively. The former were proponents of shouty, dance-punk, whilst the latter paired the dynamism of metal with the intricacy of post-rock. And so remixes aside, tracing their individual trajectories offers barely any clues as to the etymology of the uniform tropicana on Volume On’ their full length debut as Tanlines.

The rigid (if the term could be applied to a genre so notoriously lithe) adherence to ‘calypso’ sounds is remarkable. Vocals come in minimalist bursts: mantras bayed low in the mix, amongst the bongos, steel drums and other forms of melodic, Caribbean metal. Volume Onis a fun record, unashamedly simple, unpretentious and not very subtle. In that respect, it follows on from the remixes that predate it.

The opening, sun-kissed chimes of ‘Reinfo’ set the tone: trancelike and exotic. ‘Real Life’, with its wailing, synthesized horns is a wonderful blast of rapture (although it’s bettered by theMemory Tapes remix, kindly included). ‘S.A.W.’ is the best track on the album: its swirling, reverb drenched vocal and riff more akin to Panda Bear than Lord Kitchener.

But the very characteristics that make Volume On initially enjoyable are the ones that raise question marks over its durability. It would be unfair to call them “one trick ponies”, given their diverse histories, but for a pair obviously blessed with such creativity, Volume On can be decidedly one-paced. How can a band who jump seamlessly from project to project, from idea to idea, limit themselves to just one over the course of an entire LP?

On Volume may well put a smile on your face this winter. There’s every chance that its best moments will have your toe tapping once you get it on your stereo. But the real question is, how long will you permit it to stay there?

Originally published at The Line Of Best Fit

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