Tahiti 80 - Wallpaper For The Soul
Tahiti 80’s infectious homage to 80’s electropop Puzzle remained virtually unnoticed amidst the New Rock Revolution of 2001, and the French outfit have released a second album, titled Wallpaper For The Soul, that has again failed to muster much interest.
Listening to Wallpaper For The Soul is like stumbling upon a source of untapped oil, as Tahiti 80 have created an epic revisionist postmodern blitz on the conventions of non-fabricated pop. The majority of entrants into today’s Top 40, whilst considered as ‘pop’ music, would certainly not argue that they are nothing but superficial blips on the heritage of the music industry. However, Tahiti 80, whilst ignored in any UK chart, strive as best they can to produce pop music with a deeper core.
Largely thanks to principal songwriter Xavier Boyer, the band’s second album corroborates that most European nations can stick to the basics of musical genres whilst their Anglo and American cousins cut and paste styles and riffs for a quick buck. What makes Wallpaper For The Soul such a pleasure is that it is balanced so effectively. There’s just the right amount of happy-chorus-powerpop numbers and deep, brooding ballads. There’s just the right balance between raw guitar and polished electronica.
The album starts off calmly and falsely with the title track, a sparse electronic number that is almost a mere overture for the proceedings. The string-based introduction of 1,000 Times reaffirms the band’s retro favourings, and the song is backed with a heavy dance groove. The Other Side is edgy, and downbeat but manages to linger in a somewhat uplifting fashion after the conclusion. Separate Ways is a poppy filler track that could have been lifted from previous Puzzle album sessions judging by its sound. Get Yourself Together is a fast paced number infected by a very catchy summer chorus. It could easily have been a single.
Lyrically, the album is devoted to the acquisition of someone that one lusts after, as if the singer is pleading for the love to be reciprocated. This theme is almost an obsession throughout the album, but not as blatant as Marvin Gaye on Let’s Get It On. Fun Fair is a fine hors d'Oeuvres for the UK single Soul Deep, an eighties revisionist pop classic that has been buried somewhat at track eight on the album.
Open Book starts off a slow-burning ramble complete with pre-requisite cheesiness, but it pays off on the power-pop conclusion of the chorus. The Train rebrands the vibrancy of Soul Deep and Get Yourself Together. Don’t Look Back suggests that the album is slowing down to second gear, and this is further suggested by the very quaint conclusion Memories Of The Past, complete with strings and flute backing.
Yes, the band have edged towards a more Daft Punk sound, albeit with less robotic warblings, but it’s a welcome enough departure from the innocence of Puzzle to allow the album to exist in its own right. If this was a just world, or indeed if this were still the 1980’s, Tahiti 80 would be conquering it.