Pretend Not to Love EP
ancing is pretty fun.” Lead singer of Tigercity, Bill Gillim, apparently made sense of how to apply this shocking discovery sometime between Tigercity and Pretend Not to Love. The difference between the two is immeasurable. Whereas Tigercity was a tentative step into the world of synthpop, Pretend comes 5/6 formed, a mission statement to the uninitiated that posits the question: what happens when Hall and Oates is fronted by Barry Gibb?
That’s what “Other Girls” sounds like, at least. “Let Her Go” sounds like the same, except with Vangelis brought in for its final few minutes. And, as hard as it might be to admit, “Powerstripe” might just be a lost Stevie Wonder cut (even if “Are You Sensation” is the one that makes claims about “living it up in the city”). “Solitary Man” remains the group’s torch song, but it almost rocks too hard—considering its smooth and easy counterparts.
To answer that nagging question from above, the 1/6 that prevents Pretend from becoming just about perfect is “Darkwater.” If a guess had to be made, it sounds like the song is a holdover from the previous EP’s sessions, an ill-advised attempt to placate a drummer and lead guitarist that someone like Neil Halstead never bothered to make. By song’s end, the group has thrown so many melodic ideas at the wall that it stops in mid-thought, as disgusted as the listener by the bloat.
Economy of space is something that an unsigned band like Tigercity shouldn’t have much of a handle on, though. Which is why credit must go to Al Carlson, whose production work here is nothing short of miraculous. Faced with the challenge of putting together believable yacht rock out of reformed hipsters, his tweaking and layering of each element proves to be the group’s secret weapon. The dreamy coda to “Let Her Go,” the battering finale to “Solitary Man,” the perfectly harmonized vocals on just about everything: little of this would’ve sounded as good without his expertise.
The sound here is paramount, but the ideas are all Tigercity. Miss Cleo could’ve predicted that Chic would come back into vogue as a reference point for young New York bands, but it’s hard to believe that she would’ve dreamed up a band with this much promise. Along with Escort, Tigercity is making dancing pretty fun in New York again. A shocking discovery, no?
Reviewed by: Charles Merwin
Reviewed on: 2007-08-01