Detroit femmelectro duo display growth and maturity while retaining noir sexiness on second EP.
A year after releasing their first EP, Detroit duo Tart have released a followup that’s anything but sophomoric. The five-song These Are Not Love Songs displays a depth of growth and confidence in their femmelectro sound belying their relatively brief time as a band. Vocalist Zee Bricker’s supple pipes express a vampish charisma that comes with an undercurrent of vulnerability, while guitarist/programmer Adam Michael Lee Padden merges jagged riffs with New Wave dance tones. Last year’s Knots established their nascent sound, but this successor finds their style of atmospheric, noir sexiness more developed and nuanced, the production around it remarkably crisper.
Opener “Buzz” is suitably nefarious, harsh beats and a frantic heartbeat rhythm providing the platform for Bricker to beckon you into a seedy underworld before Padden’s shredding blindsides you. “Hello” swirls about with a paranoiac dread, Padden more subtle with his instrumental world-building as Bricker’s siren-persona takes center stage. The EP’s finest moment arrives in the middle in “Nebraska”, a ballad of compressed synth lines in the verses that unfurls majestically in the refrain, featuring Bricker pathos-evoking intonations over Padden’s retro ‘80s guitar work. Closer “Stasis” is drastically removed from the rest of the pack, a haunting and pensive number finding Bricker singing in a higher register as she reflects on the melancholia that comes with feeling trapped in place. She’s backed only by a mournful guitar, the wind between the notes creating an affecting quality. The tune showcases how much Tart has grown, and hopefully will serve as a signpost of what potential they have yet to access.