Album Reviews

Tahiti 80 – Fosbury

(Island) UK release date: 27 March 2006

Tahiti 80 are a lightly funky quartet from Rouen, but you’d be hard pushed to guess that on listening to this, their debut album. Not a hint of Daft Punk or St Germain for them, rather a much more soulful approach that draws from the likes of Otis Redding. Added to this intriguing mix are two sound engineers with qualifications deserving more than a passing mention – Neal Pogue has engineered for Outkast; Serban Ghenea for the Neptunes.

Opener Big Day sounds uncannily like the Charlatans circa 2001, when they too were under the influence of all things soulful, with Tim Burgess having just announced himself as an unlikely convert to the school of falsetto singing. Such tones come naturally to the Tahiti 80 singer Xavier Boyer, who gives the band’s lyrics an emotional edge.

Big Day makes a great, up-for-it album opener, as Boyer sings “come and get it now, there’s a big day waiting for you”. More than a hint of Manchester here in the French sun.

Carefree is the word on a track like Matter Of Time – the lyrics may indicate otherwise as Boyer begins “my life is a mess”, but music seems to be the outlet to change all that. A bigger rhythm section works well here, and Tahiti 80 definitely succeed more when vamping up the drums a bit. Surprisingly that takes them close to Justin Timberlake‘s territory, and as a consequence Here Comes… would sound right at home on a commercial club night.

When the band explores a more acoustic side they sound like they’re enjoying a lazy summer afternoon. However this brings out the principal weakness also, a relative lack of depth in Boyer’s voice. It’s all well and good to project a certain fragility in the songs, but where those songs require a fuller tone he is sometimes found wonting. In addition the album is too long – generous to include two bonus tracks, but even without these it feels like a few too many.

Even with these quibbles however it would be churlish to write Tahiti 80 off as missing their chance. At least three of the tracks here are outstanding examples of white funk. Melodies, groovy beats, uplifting choruses and heady harmonies – all are present and correct in abundance, and the end product is an album to throw open the windows with, an ideal welcome for the early summer.

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