INDIE MUSIC REVIEW OF 'BALLROOM' BY TAHITI 80
Tahiti 80 - Ballroom
Raphaël Duprez - INDIE MUSIC
A new album from Rouen, navigating between disco and sweet, bright pop without ever getting lost along the way.
Our affection for Tahiti 80 began one evening in 1997. During the broadcast of a radio show well known to independent music fans, the master of ceremonies played an extract from their first EP, "Twenty Minutes"; a pop concentrate close to the English scene, but with that little something extra, that flavour in the melodies that bands like, among others, Ozark Henry in its early days, honed during long hours of intensive brainstorming. Beyond the surprise, the track reconciles the listener with a genre in full decline, mixing rhythmic guitars with more relaxed ambiences and enchanting rather than unifying choruses.
Unfortunately, France is cruel to new bands. Radio silence on the airwaves for the band who, far from despairing, managed an exemplary career abroad, irrigating radio streams and stroboscopic stage stages with their songs ranging from power pop to a more funk or soul delicacy. Four years after their formidable "The Past, The Present & The Possible", an album in the form of a tribute to those years of deserved euphoria and an obligatory passage between what has lived and what will become, Tahiti 80 impose their new effort, the aptly-named "Ballroom", with uncommon efficiency.
Rarely has an album been so full of flashes and shadows of aesthetic and musical purity. Throwing discreet but wonderfully enticing electronic arrangements to the wind (Roberr), the band disseminate their pop and disco interlacing, while tempering the effects to keep only the essence of the aforementioned styles. Getting down to basics: that's the credo applied to the songs that are generously given to us, at least as a preamble to the beneficial slap in the face that we were supposed to be caressing. Launching hostilities with the dazzling "Crush!" and leaving the door open to a potential post-70's tidal wave, the musicians abruptly and immediately calm things down (Love by Numbers), the better to catch us in their nets. We then cross the sun-drenched beaches that Brian Wilson trod (T.D.K, Seven Seas), the unctuous quicksand dunes (The God of the Horizon) before forcing the pace, being swept along in a twirling, radically addictive saraband (Coldest Summer, Missing). "Ballroom" takes us by the waist and brings us to the center of the track, provoking a fever that must be exulted in urgency.
Because what the album really wants to show is that the dancefloor has never been more itself than when the purest emotions find their outlet. Vocals take on the trappings of discreet but sublime effects (the unforgettable "Back 4 More", apotheosis of an already magnificently homogeneous whole), inviting, like the DJ of an improbable colored and pixelated party, each individual, whoever he or she may be, to unleash his or her sensuality under faceted balls and on luminous slabs rarely contemplated for almost 40 years. Tahiti 80 closes the doors, embraces and provokes, clearing the bar stools of their occupants to force everyone to come together, to sweat under large, cooling fans, while gentle smoke bewitches an already sensitive and profound atmosphere. Bodies transform, merge, become one on a soft, inviting floor, under spotlights of bluish, yellow and orange tones. What is usually an exception reserved for weekend evenings becomes an everyday drug; simply, "Ballroom" should be taken for what it really is, an invitation to dance and to the most delicate expression of the libido, to the fantasy of body-hugging costumes and sequined dresses. But the gestures remain sober, respectful, skimming the contours of faces and hips that never stop moving, until the wee hours of the morning.
Tahiti 80 took four years to bring us "Ballroom", so we're giving ourselves four years to get over it. And to stop our lascivious movements while listening to it.