Sunny electropop. It’s a phrase that would make some cringe, or at least roll their eyes. Depending on how much sleep I’ve gotten/caffeine I’ve had, I may be one of those people. It’s not that I think it’s somehow a lesser genre. Sunny electropop is just as respectable as any other style of indie pop, assuming that respectability is something that indie bands go for. It’s just that I can only take so many upbeat synths and good vibes before my eyes start to bleed. Not even my ears. My eyes. I think it must be a genetic thing.
That having been said, Tim & Jean are quite a talented pair. Like What is their debut album, released in Australia on 1st April to critical acclaim. It’s produced by John O’Mahoney, so it’s very well made, on a technical level. Still, it’s everything that the phrase “sunny electropop” would lead you to expect. Their music is saturated in the high-pitched sounds of cheery synths and buoyant vocals. That’s all well and good for the first few songs, but after ten minutes of the same bright synth pop, it gets to be a bit monotonous. “Like What,” the album opener, establishes the duo as effective musicians and pop artists. It’s fun, well layered, and not too derivative. The phrase “come on, baby” pops up in the lyrics just a little too often for the song to be taken entirely seriously, but this isn’t serious music. Its purpose is to share a good mood, and it does. “Veronika,” the following track, is equally enjoyable. It’s during the next two songs that the feeling of déjà vu starts to creep in. The acoustic guitar used in “Give It Up” is a welcome break, and complements the soft keyboards and alternately high and low vocals well. There are a moments like that sprinkled throughout the rest of the album. Variations in the vocals, an echoing drumbeat. It’s the little things that make all the difference.
In the end, Tim & Jean are all about the good vibes, and it’s hard to fault them for that. While Like What can seem a little overwhelmingly sunny at the outset, it’s still the product of capable musicians. I’ll be interested to see where they go from here.
Publica Records will release Like What in the UK on 30th May.