“I.S.A.A.C,” a highlight of Tahiti 80‘s debut album, Puzzle (1999), conveniently encapsulates the French band’s musical philosophy: “We’ll never be younger than today / Tomorrow’s yesterday / It’s never too late.” By simultaneously looking in the rearview for melodic inspiration — the 2003 Japanese import A Piece of Gold: Soulful Pop Songs Selected by Tahiti 80 features cuts by Laura Nyro, the Chi-Lites, Leroy Hutson, and the Flying Burrito Brothers, among others — and at the ever-changing landscape ahead for the latest upgrades of computerized soul — the band produced their 2005 album Fosbury with Neal Pogue, who mixed “Hey Ya!” for OutKast — Tahiti 80 have prevented their sound from breaking down, abandoned in the junkyard of pop. They’ve never chased trends, but they aren’t preoccupied with setting them, either. Each new recording is the chance for a fresh start.
Reteaming with producer Andy Chase (Ivy, Brookville) for the first time since Wallpaper for the Soul (2002), their sophomore effort, Tahiti 80 will release their seventh LP, The Sunshine Beat Vol. 1, on October 12 via their decade-old label, Human Sounds. A pervasive but by no means deadly strain of melancholia coursed through the group’s last two albums, The Past, the Present & the Possible (2011) and Ballroom (2014): “4am,” on the former, aches with romantic regret, quietly bolstered by lead singer Xavier Boyer’s confessional delivery, while the latter’s “Crush!” upends its seemingly punctuation-positive title in the song’s final stretch with the lyrics “It’s been a long time since you crushed my soul / And I’ve been working my way out of that hole.” But if the new album’s lead single, “Let Me Be Your Story,” is any indication, winter is finally over and the antidepressants are working.
“Obviously I was thinking about social networks, your timeline of your story, when we wrote the song,” Boyer explained in a press release, in particular “all this information that you think is going to define you, but maybe people are focusing on the smaller details rather than the important stuff.” There is beauty all around us, the vast majority of which can be found outside the frame of a selfie, so put down your phone and let the sunshine in — there’s the past, there’s the present, and then there’s the possible. As Boyer sings in “Let Me Be Your Story,” “You gotta push push push the button / You gotta break the glass.” It’s never too late.
[photo credit: valerian7000]