Tahiti 80: Wallpaper for the Soul (Minty Fresh)

“Imagine your heart as a house,” says Boyer. “Music is a way to decorate, to bring colors to your life.”

Although I tend to be drawn more to dark, moody indie rock than sweet, sunny pop music, there is a strain of the latter which includes artists like the Sea and Cake, High Llamas, Tahiti 80, and others that I find positively invigorating. Tahiti 80, a quartet of French sound confectioners, have just released their second full-length album, Wallpaper for the Soul, and it’s an absolute charmer. The vocals of Xavier Boyer are warm and innocent enough to melt the most reserved listener; the melodies inspire romantic nostalgia and reverie of the most blissful kind, and the bouncy rhythms and lush orchestrations recall the most glorious moments of pop music’s past.

“Imagine your heart as a house,” says Boyer on the Minty Fresh Web site. “Music is a way to decorate, to bring colors to your life.” Boyer and his fellow band members—Mederic Gontier, Sylvain Marchand, and Pedro Resende—have indeed given us some dazzling musical color schemes on this disc. “1,000 Times” begins like one of those mid-’70s disco tunes with its danceable rhythm and sweet strings, but Boyer’s gentle, understated vocals turn it into a shimmering pop confection. “Get Yourself Together” is an even brighter gem, a simply irresistable melody and arrangement that epitomizes how uplifting great pop music can be. “You look better now/No doubt about it/You’re even smiling just a little bit/That child-like smile is back on your face,” sings Boyer, and he might as well be singing about the likely reaction of the listener to his buoyant compositions. “Happy End” is a bit more melancholy, but still with a glistening tunefulness, and a marvelous contribution on pedal steel from Bob Hoffnar. “The Train” is another bit of classic songcraft, with a catchy bassline by Pedro Resende, uncommonly subtle synth textures, and one of Boyer’s most inviting vocals.

Really, every song here is a pleasure, with Andy Chase producing the platter with remarkable warmth and clarity. It’s worth mentioning that the horns, woodwinds and string arrangements are by Richard Hewson, former George Martin associate who worked on the Beatles’ Let it Be and the first James Taylor disc on Apple Records. Boyer was an avowed fan, and the sounds on this album certainly do seem to hearken back to a more musically enlightened era. On the disc’s wistful closer “Memories of the Past,” Boyer sings “I wonder why/I always keep pleasant memories of the past/Why anything bad or good seems better/Once it has passed."

The sweet, lovely pop music on Wallpaper for the Soul is a perfect soundtrack for that kind of reflection, and could well help create a few new memories for any listener fortunate enough to add this to their music library.

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