Fey Pop with French Twist

Tahiti 80 - Puzzle
(Minty Fresh)
4 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed Sept. 26, 2000

Tahiti 80

By Tony Bonyata

With a name that evokes a post-WWII cocktail, cover art that looks like it was pulled from a Japanese comic book and a pop sound that is reminiscent of what invaded our shores from Britain in the early '60s, it's hard to imagine that the new rock quartet Tahiti 80 could possibly call France their home.
On their debut album, Puzzle, singer / songwriter / multi-instrumentalist Xavier Boyer, along with bandmembers Mederic Gontier (guitars), Sylvain Marchand (drums) and Pedro Rosende (bass and keys), pays respect to '60s British pop icons, such as The Beatles and The Kinks, with their own blend of soft, effervescent pop.
Puzzle is filled with light, airy compositions and lush harmonies, as on the numbers "Heartbeat," "Made First (Never Forget)" and "Easy Way Out," that are sadly missing from today's music. But instead of merely aping their heros from the British Invasion, Tahiti 80 adds a quirky twist to freshen things up a bit. Boyer's fey, ethereal voice floats and bounces over a Herb Albert-flavored trumpet on the sweet "Things Are Meant To Last Forever," while a non-threatening hip-hop rhythm holds Boyer's boyish musings down like a small child tugging at a helium balloon. His cold, robotic warblings further sound as if he lifted Cher's vox box from her song "Believe" on the plaintive sounding "Swimming Suit."
"And he gives me complexes, because he's considered a songwriter, and I'm not at this time," sings Boyer on "Mr. Davies", an homage to The Kink's frontman Ray Davies and brightest moment on Puzzle . If Tahiti 80 manages to produce another album chock-full of tasty, ear candy like this bright debut, however, then Boyer's self-doubts should soon disappear.

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