Fosbury (Tahiti 80)
Tahiti 80 has always been better in theory than practice. Their ultra-slick approach, which uses elements of classic '60s pop, disco, '70s AM radio, and French pop and gives it a modern electronic sheen, has always sounded wonderful, but the songs weren't always there. Indeed previous albums have been hit or miss, the hits being very good slices of modern pop, the misses failing to make much of an impression. Fosbury is where they finally put their sound together with a batch of memorable songs. Beginning with the energetic and catchy "Big Day," nearly every song has either an infectious singalong chorus or some kind of hook to keep the listener involved and excited. Yes, excited. Along with the improved songcraft, the group seems to have boosted the energy level a few notches on quite a few tracks; "Chinatown," for example, jumps out of the speakers and rocks like nothing they've done before, and Xavier Boyer's vocals, while mostly as sweet as a Sugar Smack, also have some real bite on the rockier tracks. The smoother and more laid-back tracks are great too. The band is slinky and intimate on groovers like "Something About You Girl" and "Somebody New," sounding like they spent quite a bit of time absorbing the lessons of Smokey Robinson circa A Quiet Storm. That's an influence you might not expect too many indie pop bands to have, but it works a treat here. Another song that successfully delves into the sound of retro R&B is the bubbling and truly wonderful "Your Love Shines," which features the vocals of obscure '70s singer Linda Lewis. This injection of soul is a very welcome addition to the group's sound. The secret to Tahiti 80's success on Fosbury is the diversity of sounds and styles the band approximates and the dedication they give to making each song a memorable experience; the record sounds like nothing less than a greatest-hits album by the perfect mid-2000s pop band.
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