Live Review: Tanlines

Tanlines Mixed Emotions album art

Electro-pop duo Tanlines, based out of New York City, came to Motorco last Friday night as part of their last minute debut tour of the southern states.  Jesse Cohen (percussionist) and Eric Emm (guitarist and main vocalist) mix calypso and tribal beats with upbeat synth-driven melodies and plaintive vocals.  They create both dance-floor worthy pop and simplified, contemplative ballads, with the new wave, 80s influence ever-present.  Emm’s slightly nasal, mournful voice cohesively ties their sound together and defines their unique ability to evoke nostalgia and heartache with endearing optimism.

It’s their clever choice of mixing the energetic African-inspired drum rhythms with Emm’s honest lyrics and resonating vocals that make Tanlines so dang infectious, relatable, and undeniably stirring.  Their songs (“All of Me,” “Real Life,” and “Green Grass” to name a few) provide the necessary hooks and catchy choruses required of any great pop song to encourage dancing but possess a depth and truthfulness that is refreshing.

The band played songs from their recent LP Mixed Emotions (2012), with an oldie mixed in.  Although perhaps a little new and unfamiliar to the Durham crowd, they made a lasting impression for their first visit.  The adage “time flies when you’re having fun” was sadly true on Friday as the night seemed to end too soon.  It seemed just as people were warming up, the dance party was over… I hope Tanlines will pick up where they left off and come back soon.  The Triangle needs more exposure to the burgeoning indie-electro groups of Brooklyn and the more promotion Tanlines does in the South to spread their unique sound, the better.