Tiga is high fashion. To listen to Tiga’s latest album Ciao! is to know you’re hearing something very current, very “now”, and you just know you’re hearing something that someone is going to recommend to all of their “in-the-know” friends. To hear Tiga is to hear car commercials, but not just any car commericals; Tiga is custom made for Lexus, or Mercedes-Benz, or Jaguar. It’s music for which money is no object, and its listeners will be detached appreciators as much as dancefloor-bound fans, as ready to use it as wallpaper as much as entertainment.
The fifth track on Ciao! is called “Luxury”, and it’s something of a mission statement here, if unintentionally so. “Luxury / Giving me / Peace of mind / Peace of mind / Luxury / Is all I see / When I close my eyes / When I close my eyes,” he sings, and the intent is quite plainly a tale of denial, of someone who would prefer to drown their troubles in commerce than to face whatever the real world might bring. Still, to listen casually — which Tiga tends to invite by offering mostly unobtrusive beats and gently-delivered vocals — is to hear only the rich, thick sound of someone who will always have more than you.
It’s not just the explicitly-delivered lyrics that offer this impression, either. There’s a self-assuredness that borders on cocky when an artist is willing to deliver lyrics like “The crowd goes (beep beep beep) / My phone goes (beep beep beep) / The world goes (beep beep beep) / And you go (ooo ooo aaahhh)” with the swagger of someone who hasn’t cared about much of anything in the last five years. Turning “these shoes stay on my feet” into an empowering motto is another of Tiga’s feats, as is keeping a straight face while telling us, over and over again, that “it’s sex o’ clock.” In fact, he comes out with such an assortment of half-ridiculous, half-ironically clever lines, that it’s actually difficult to take him at all seriously when he tells his tale of lost love in “Love Don’t Dance Here Anymore”. This is a shame, because the time that track is given to build combined with the development of the beat and the winning melodies that take over in its latter half make it one of the best listens on the entire album.
What’s brilliant about Tiga, then, is that despite the ridiculousness of his little album here, he actually turns out plenty of tracks worth
wearing hearing, thanks largely to his proficiency with a bassline. Single “Shoes”, a track enhanced greatly by the beautifully bizarre video making the rounds, has one of those slithery, snaky basslines that you swear you’ve heard before, leading into an almost Beck-like level of deadpan as Tiga’s fetish-leaning advances keep getting shot down by his would-be playmate. His skill with a bassline is further proven on “Turn the Night On”, which sounds like it’s going to be Freezepop before it turns into a heartfelt homage to Soft Cell.
Where the bassline doesn’t sell it, too, Tiga also shows a surprising willingness to go off the deep end with his choice of electronic noise. For an artist who seems to spend a lot of time making music with haute couture appeal, his willingness to throw random stabs of static and noise into “Mind Dimension” is quite welcome, as are the overt house music tendencies of “Overtime”, which conflict with the heavily synthpop-influenced dance music leanings of the rest of the album. The variety in musical backing is nice, given that his vocal sound and attitude is relatively static throughout.
Ciao! is something of a confusing beast, then, as it’s easy to be turned off by Tiga’s apparent self-assuredness, as if he’s out to please nobody but himself with his latest album. Even so, it’ll make your head nod, and it’ll even make you laugh every once in a while; and, if you can make it to the last track, you’re in for a beautiful take on an epic love song, provided you can take it seriously as such. On his second album, Tiga’s grown into a sound, it seems, and an interesting one at that; unfortunately, it’s a sound also bound to grow stale. By the time he returns, he’ll have to either change or risk alienating the little bit of audience this disc is bound to pull in. Such is the price of fashion.