Tahiti 80

Puzzle

by Joel Hanson

5 June 2000

 

Tahiti 80 is pristine French pop crafted in the spirit of the ‘60s rock icons—like the Kinks and the Zombies—that the band so obviously adores. However, Tahiti 80’s undeniable charm emanates from lead singer Xavier Boyer’s ability to successfully channel his infectiously innocent intonations—like a naïve version of Nick Drake—through the filters of a second language. I can’t imagine an American band using, much less getting away with, a lyric like “I return home with special food for my spirit”, but such linguistic solecisms have an unusual appeal in light of the somatic ambience of the accompanying music—which, more accurately, draws from several ‘70s sonic sources—and its capacity to transport you blissfully into the past. For example, the song “Heartbeat”, with its bouncy, almost house-like rhythms, and K.C. and the Sunshine Band-esque vocal hook, is so intoxicating and familiar, you’d swear that you once heard it pumping out of an eight-track from a passing, matte-black Camaro, or perhaps in an American Bandstand-induced dream. In addition, the trumpet provided by Eric Matthews and mixes by Tore Johansson keep the nostalgia flowing through standout tracks “Yellow Butterfly”, the ABBA-influenced “I.S.A.A.C” and the title track “Puzzle.”

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