Review: Tenek – On the Wire

While we quite enjoyed Tenek’s debut, Stateless, and looked forward to its efficiently-released follow-up ,our expectations were realistically whelmed. That an album that hardly writes new history, or pushes electronic music into any particularly interesting new direction can be this good is a testament to the songwriting prowess of this constantly refreshing UK duo.

The band go in a clearly-defined new direction. While their first album was rather standard modern synthpop indicative of the aughts, On the Wire takes a decidedly retro path. There are songs here, like “The Art of Evasion” and “The Grid” and especially “Under my Skin” that evoke mid-80s Canadian synthpop. While listening to the album on repeat during a five-hour drive this weekend we kept flashing back to summer of ’85 or ’86 when songs by Strange Advance or Honeymoon Suite were all over the radio in this country. In and of itself that’s not germane to whether the album good or bad, it just very much “is”. It’s almost shocking how well the band ape the bygone era. Right down to the synths in use and the double tracked vocals every detail is just right. And while in lesser hands this retro party could get boring pretty quickly, the boys really pull it off. It’s strong music with a fun retro vibe, not simply retro music that pales in comparison to the music it’s trying to evoke.

And while the yesteryear compositions and fun and well executed, it’s those songs that try to live outside the album’s over-riding thesis that stand out as the best of the lot. The bombastic “Visions” or the melodically beautiful “Higher Ground” are asskickingly terrific in their own right. And best of all remains lead single “Blinded By You”, just a fantastic pop song that stands as among the best of its genre released this year.

Is this groundbreaking material or even remotely “new”? No, not even a little bit. But is it rock-solid electronic pop music, that is perfectly constructed, take-no-prisoners genre confection? You bet. They do what they do, and they do it wonderfully, unapologetically well. So well they’ve produced one of the best electronic albums of 2010, a review we offer without a shred of hesitation. This is a band that knows what they are and are continuing down a path that promised great, great things. Pick it up without fear of disappointment.

Watch; Blinded By You (live) {just a “snippet” and a poor quality one at that; c’mon folks, give us a video we can all be proud of here!}


2 Responses to “Review: Tenek – On the Wire”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Peter Steer, C.A. Crosby. C.A. Crosby said: Review of Tenek's new album: […]

  2. Thanks for the excellent review, here is a much better quality video for you!

    Best Wishes.

    Pete – tenek

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