Tahiti 80's bathwater-warm grooves entice and ravish
Taking their name from a souvenir t-shirt given to singer Xavier Boyer's dad back in 1980, these four Parisians have found some truly inviting ways to carve great pop from melancholy and longing. The charismatic Boyer and bandmates Mederic Gontier, Sylvain Marchand and Pedro Resende, a band since '95, are working out some heavy stuff through some unshakeable hooks. Together, they have managed to grab the attention of most of Paris and will soon do the same in Tokyo, London and Anytown, USA.
Xavier and bassist Pedro met back in 1993 at the University of Rouen and connected, as the story goes, based on their love of music. Both gentlemen were heavily entrenched in their love of '60s pop, particularly British artists, (Beatles, Zombies, and especially, The Kinks), as well as their more recent faves Olivia Tremor Control, Gorky's Zygotic Mynci, the Cardigans and Eggstone. The two musicians recorded some demos together, pulled guitarists Mederic into the fold in '94, and then drummer Sylvain Marchand completed the lineup the following year. Tahiti 80 would then go on to self-produce an EP appropriately entitled 20 Minutes in 1996, which did well in France garnering some initial press interest in the band.
Subsequent output and association reflected a rare like-mindedness amongst bandmates. Theirs' is an approach to making pop music that encompasses their aforementioned affinity for the timeless, gleaned from the record collections of older siblings, uncles, etc... as well as today's pervading electronic pulse beat. Xavier says, "That's one of the great aspects of today; you can like Big Star and the Chemical Brothers. We like to think that, in a way, we go back to the beginning again, adding contemporary elements like electronic sounds and, I hope, some personality." Perhaps the band's "personality" is more about their obscure fascinations. For example, Xavier is obsessed with '60s Irish crooner Joe Dolan, who with his band the Drifters, recorded a minor pop hit called "The Answer To Everything." He says of his enchantment, "I collect everything Joe has done, for the sleeves and sometimes for the music! It 's amazing! He looks like a red-headed Lou Ferrigno." In addition, there are the palpable obscure influences of such artists as The Left Banke and The Buckinghams, fairly unfamiliar to most of the band's ravenous fan base, but certainly revered by many an audiophile. A year ago, the band flew to New York City to make a record with Ivy's Andy Chase producing. The band dug in at Chase's Stratosphere Studios in lower Manhattan and were visited by Chase's Ivy co-conspirator/Fountains Of Wayne member Adam Schlesinger, who lent a hand with some keyboard tracks as well as ex-Cardinal luminary Eric Matthews, who played some trumpet on the record. Boyer says of working with Matthews, "We are huge fans of Cardinal and of Eric's solo albums. We had one song that needed a trumpet part and Andy immediately thought of him. We sent him some rough mixes and he agreed to cross the U.S. to record with us. He ended up playing on 4 songs."
After tracking in New York, the band trekked over to Sweden to have the record mixed by producer extraordinaire Tore Johansson who has worked with, among others, the Cardigans and St. Etienne. The result is Tahiti 80's debut long player Puzzle, which Xavier describes as "a collection of songs written at various times in our short career," the oldest tune being a gem called "Mr. Davies," dedicated to Boyer's ultimate idol, Ray Davies of the Kinks. The rest of the record proves to be equally as pleasing. So much so that it has inspired Cornelius to work with the band, naming them one of his current faves and asking them to appear on his latest Japanese compilation, (the group have also recently collaborated with Minty Fresh artist Kahimi Karie). >From the enticing starter "Yellow Butterfly," (the band's newest song) through the sexy runaway hit "Heartbeat," into "Hey Joe," the band's homage to the aforementioned Joe Dolan and elsewhere, this is a pop record which will inspire more than just one listen. Tahiti 80 comes complete with a unique vision,remarkable melodic intuition and the charisma to put it all across.
This French quartet, who borrowed their name from a cheesy souvenir T-shirt, dress up horn- and string-swept 1960s pop bliss in a tie-dyed T-shirt and black leather jacket. With their intricate melding of woozy, reverberating guitars, jangling acoustics, sitar, mellotron, breathy, effortless vocals and almost ridiculously pleasant melodies, a listener would likely place them among their contemporary pop torch-bearers Supergrass or Super Furry Animals (further, lead singer Xavier Boyer's French accent is nearly undetectable). But what gives them away is that seemingly requisite French tendency to leave no edge unsmoothed. Like their techno counterparts Air, Tahiti 80's production is aerated, refined and simply perfect like a silky mousse. Puzzle
is carefree pop at its most elegant and substantive. Boyer's proclaimed adoration of the Kinks is evidenced in the more guitar-crunched tracks like the title track and "Hey Joe", and the charming "Mr. Davies" is a reverent tribute to Ray himself. In it, he sings, "He's considered a songwriter, and I am not--at this time". Au contraire, Mr Boyer, you are an exquisite songwriter indeed. --Beth Massa