To correspond with the release of their debut full-length, Mixed Emotions, Tanlines premiered a video for the album’s second single, “All of Me,” the week of the release. This video featured a fuzzy VHS taping of the duo sternly performing the track to an audience of catatonic middle aged men and women who slowly (and uncomfortably) begin to dance, resulting in a peculiar, and quite awkward, jubilee.
The video, directed by comedic genius Julian Barratt (The Mighty Boosh), is meant to be taken as dry, dark, humor, and it succeeds at this, but it may actually say more about the album as a whole than it’s meant (or that Tanlines would like it) to.
Jesse Cohen and Eric Emm are talented songwriters and proved it with their 2010 EP, Settings, but the majority of the songs that comprise Mixed Emotions seem to teeter between easy listening rock (a lá The Police and Paul Simon) and edgy, dance inducing new wave without taking a specific direction, thus leaving the tunes in a sort of sonic limbo. The album begins on a promising note, leading with its first single, “Brothers.” This tune is mellow but Cohen and Emm create a beautiful, sweeping soundscape by playing with the noise of crashing waves layered with atmospheric synthesizers and soft vocals. It’s calming, but it’s complex. From there, Tanlines jumps right into its second single, “All of Me,” which is much more upbeat than its predecessor, featuring drum machines, electronic beeps and claps (hence the quirky dance party it inspired in the video).
Unfortunately, many of the tracks after the singles seem to fall short in comparison. They either sound like they want to be dance songs, but they’re not quite compelling enough to get your hips shaking, or they lean more toward the world of ballads, but lack the heart. The only songs other than the singles that seem to capture the right mood are “Real Life,” and “Nonesuch.” The former is a track borrowed from Settings that has the right amount of simplicity and fullness, focusing on percussion and beats paired with catchy songwriting and lyrics, and the latter is a slow ballad that features sweeping keys and atmospheric sounds, making its spot as album closer more than appropriate.The Brooklyn two-piece has potential, but before they release their sophomore album, Cohen and Emm need to decide what sound they want to go for, or else they’ll run the risk of being featured on the playlist of another comatose “dance” party.