Artist Spotlight

Review: Tangerine, “Radical Blossom”

1 Comment 6 October 2013

Review: Tangerine, “Radical Blossom”

“It’s such a curiosity to me that this quartet can marry elements of classic surf rock and bluesy fuzz pop, and still sound blissfully modern. There’s an art to the ability to sound fresh while looking to iconic styles and repurposing them in a meaningful way that advances their craft. Everything works here, in perfect balance and heavenly harmony. “

Artist: Tangerine

EP: Radical Blossom

Genre: Fuzz Pop / Surf Rock

RIYL: Camera Obscura, Juliana Hatfield, The Breeders

Tangerine Radical Blossom

As soon as the harmonies hit, locked in a luscious retro groove on opening track “Feel This Way,” I had an immediate reaction and couldn’t stop moving from side to side in my chair as I made my way through Radical Blossom. In fact, it’s those dreamy harmonies that boost Marika Justad’s deceptively strong lead vocals to a fever pitch. Flanked by sister Miro on drums,  guitarist Toby Kuhn and Ryan Baker driving the bassline, Justad and company have turned the girl group/sister act inside out in the best way possible.

Justad’s vocals immediately reminded me of another great indie pop singer, Tracyanne Campbell of Camera Obscura, mixed with the sweet strength of Juliana Hatfield and the badass attitude of Kim Deal. And I could go on and on about how infectious those vocals are, but this isn’t a one-woman show. In fact, Kuhn impresses greatly with guitar lines that add something truly special with each track. Miro’s cymbal-heavy drums add a buoyancy and expressive quality that counterbalances the urgent rhythm of Baker’s bass guitar.

“Feel This Way” is a knockout of a song; it’s nearly impossible not to fall in love on the first listen. It’s wistful and soft, turning quickly into a torchy, surf-pop summertime gem. “Hanford Riviera,” which makes lyrical references to a leaking nuclear waste tank, seriously belies its pop-perfect sound. It’s one of those songs that you go back to listen to and realize that the subject matter so cleverly masks itself if you aren’t listening closely because it sounds so positive and energetic.

“Mars” had me transfixed with every listen, generating a slow-burning build with the combination of the swingy vocals of Justad with a sparkly guitar that eventually gives way to a blistering, huge guitar riff. In a word, it’s brilliant. And really shows off the songwriting and truly capable instrumentation of every member of the band. “The Runner,” in contrast, is edgier and pulls no punches (except, perhaps, a knockout at the end), and finds Tangerine racing toward the finish with strength and style.

It’s such a curiosity to me that this quartet can marry elements of classic surf rock and bluesy fuzz pop, and still sound blissfully modern. There’s an art to the ability to sound fresh while looking to iconic styles and repurposing them in a meaningful way that advances their craft. Everything works here, in perfect balance and heavenly harmony. Justad expresses a fragility and strength through her vocal work, a sweetness and charm that belies a fierce talent. But as I expressed earlier, this is a group effort. And this Tangerine is one I want to sink my teeth into over and over again.


Tangerine website: http://tangerineband.com/

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