The follow-up to 2013’s ‘Untogether’ sees the Montreal duo craft out 16 meticulously detailed tracks that feature frontwoman Raphaelle Standell-Preston in fine form throughout.
The Braids vocalist dazzles over the lush arrangements on lead single ‘No One Like You’, and again catches the ear on the hedonistic bump of fellow standout ‘Versus Game’, where spacey guitars float sparsely atop a pulsating synth beat. Both are prime fodder for high-flying club mixes, as is the record’s title track, which grows vividly around a bouncing ‘Inspector Norse’ bass line, shuffling drum ticks, and a poignant motto of self-love: “Learning how to be alone without you, and happy to be with me”.
From the start, a number of interludes inject atmosphere and narrative, and offer pause from the record’s more lively moments — ‘Prepare For Flight’ leads gently into ‘Younger Heart’, with the soft and distant voice of a female flight attendant fading to be replaced by Standell-Preston’s spoken word storytelling. Likewise, the brief and intimate sway of ‘Strummin’ gives ‘Tenderness’ a few moments of stripped-down calm before posing a weighty question: “How do we make the fire stay after all these years?”
Calling to mind everyone from Grimes to Telepopmusik, Blue Hawaii have continued to dig into the difficulties associated with keeping love off the rocks on this their second album. With greater room for booming electro-ballads and crisply produced dance numbers, ‘Tenderness’ is more engaging than its predecessor but no less immersive, making it on the whole a hugely accomplished return.
Words: Noveen Bajpai
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