Tahiti 80

After listening to Tahiti 80's Wallpaper for the Soul for the first time, I thought I had these guys pegged. They hailed from somewhere in Kansas, and from this middle American locale they were trying desperately, and obviously at great distance, to channel very specific frequencies of Europop. They were gunning to be a more poppy, upbeat Air or a Swede-less Cardigans. Strange indeed that this quartet is in fact authentically European--and Parisian at that. (They've got the names to prove it: Xavier Boyer, Pedro Resende, Sylvain Marchand and Mederic Gontier.) Even with this surprising bit of information in tow, Wallpaper remains a fairly tasteless concoction, a rather bland blend of laid-back, over-polished orchestral pop. For every time they almost nail the swank lounge thing ("Memories of the Past," "Get Yourself Together"), there's a reciprocal moment of undeniable affectation (the intro to "Separate Ways" sounds like a remix of some anonymous Sugar Ray single). Filled with strings-drenched near-nonsensical choruses, Wallpaper's slick contours and "eclectic" sound don't ever amount to much more than the album's enigmatic opening statement: "Wallpaper for the soul/To keep away from the black hole." It's worth noting that a song called "Happy End" falls exactly halfway through.

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