The Tender Box – The Score (2006)
purchase this album (Amazon)
Before getting too far into The Score, let me just say, in the interest of full disclosure, that if this album hadn’t been sent to me by a certain well-respected reader of this very blog, I probably would never have listened to it. From head to toe, this album reeks of the kind of New Wave-tinged, retro ’80s bullshit that’s polluting our airwaves these days. Male mascara and affected British accents piss me off; “Mr. Brightside” notwithstanding, this is one crop of bands I could do very easily without.
That being said, The Tender Box is good enough to make such listening prejudices seem silly and quaint. Yeah, the band wears its influences completely on its starched black sleeves — and those influences include such enormous red flags as The Cure and Depeche Mode — but there’s no denying the craft and attention to detail in songs like “Let Go” (download) and “Place Called Home” (download). This record’s almost enough to make a person believe in the value of a musical bandwagon.
I say “bandwagon” not because I think The Tender Box is simply mimicking the hot sound of the day; matter of fact, I get the opposite impression. It’s just that if they didn’t have such an easily marketable sound, they probably wouldn’t have anybody doing publicity for them, and I wouldn’t already have a copy of this album, which you’re no doubt going to want to hear more of after you download the songs I’ve linked. To which I say: Go buy your own. It’ll boost your hipster cachet, if you’re into that sort of thing; more importantly, it really ain’t half bad. Or even one-quarter bad.
Like I said — maybe bandwagons aren’t so awful after all.