Where on their last album, 2005’s Fosbury, Tahiti 80 slicked up and focused their sound considerably and made a beautifully shiny modern dance-pop album, on 2009’s Activity Center you can hear right away that the band has shifted directions. “24 x 7 Boy” comes charging out of the gate sporting garage rock chord changes, crunchy guitars, and an exciting energy that is both surprising and welcome. Indeed, much of the album has a loose and fun feel that’s inspired by mid-'60s rock and pop, dominated by short, snappy tunes, and brightened up by the frequent use of parping organs, sunshiney vocal harmonies, and tambourines. That’s not to say that the group has made a slavishly obvious “Sixties” throwback album. There are still plenty of modern textures and sounds everywhere, and there’s a sparse cleanliness to the group’s playing and arrangements that would have them thrown out of any garage. It’s the combination of eras, styles, and sounds, as well as the evocative nature of the song structures, Xavier Boyer’s sweetly heartfelt vocals, and energetic restraint the band utilizes that make the album work. It also helps that Boyer and the group have written their strongest batch of songs yet. There is no filler to speak of, and just about every song would sound great coming out of a jukebox. Or car speakers…or anywhere. The track list plays out like a classic rock check list that touches on doo wop (the lilting "Fire Escape"), laid-back country rock ( "Dream On"), funky horn section rock ("Come Around"), soft rock ("Tune In"), and a lot of catchy, Strokes-y guitar rock. The end result is a complete departure from Fosbury, and the rest of their previous output, too, but it’s a move that will please fans of very poppy, hook-filled tunes played with style, economy, and plenty of energy.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Tim Sendra