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Tutu to Tango

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Tutu to Tango is the first solo album by Tahiti 80's Xavier Boyer (Axe Riverboy is an anagram of his name). He's cast aside nearly all the electronic leanings of that band for a more organic, acoustic guitar-led approach. Luckily, none of Tahiti 80's melodic grace and sweet soulfulness has been removed. Boyer's tender croon is at the center of the record, he piles on all kinds of strings, brass and backing vocals and rocks out occasionally ("Roundabout," "Carry On") but at its core this is an intimate, heartfelt record. Anyone who found Tahiti 80 a bit too glib and detached will find there's much more to hold on to here. Boyer will never win awards for his lyrics but they feel personal and lean toward quiet melancholy, and the "real" instruments give the record warmth. Songs like "Morning Blues" with its hushed atmosphere, the molasses slow "Long" (on which Boyer pulls off the neat trick of making the drum machine sound melancholy), and "Cross the Line" with its somber strings and aching vocal are the work of someone pouring out their soul. Of course if you liked the slickness and plastic pop of Tahiti 80, there are enough hooks here to make it worthwhile. Besides it's not like Boyer made a lo-fi, bedroom four-track record, Tu Tu to Tango is slick enough for AAA radio and he makes sure to include a giant dollop of sugar to make the heartbreak go down smoothly for those tender, pop-loving souls who need it that way. Whether the release of this album means the end of the road for Tahiti 80 is unclear but it wouldn't be a terrible thing if Boyer keeps releasing records as nice as Tutu to Tango.

Tutu to Tango, Axe Riverboy
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