Tuxedo

II

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On their first album together under the name Tuxedo, neo-soul hotshot Mayer Hawthorne and in-demand producer Jake One delved deeply into their shared love for the robo-funk of Zapp, the shimmeringly slick R&B of Billy Ocean, the bouncing grooves of the Gap Band, and the sugary romanticism of vocalists like Melba Moore. Tuxedo II lives up to its title and sounds like a natural follow-up, packed to the bow tie with elastic dancefloors jams, deadly hot synth bass, a horn section tight as Earth, Wind & Fire, and lots of booty-bumpin' jams topped by Hawthorne's boyishly tender vocals. Like a super-slick modern update done with style and reverence, the duo takes pains not to let any traces of modern music into the mix. Close your eyes while "Take a Picture" or "Back in Town" spins and it's like a time trip back to the glittery, Mylar-covered '80s; "2nd Time Around" could be a lost Ready for the World track; "Livin' 4 Your Lovin'" adds some post-disco glam to the mix; and there are a couple ballads that have a sweet, late-night-dedication feel to them, with "Shine" -- a soft-spoken duet between Hawthorne and Gavin Turek that gives off serious René & Angela vibes -- being the clear winner. Hawthorne and One don't try much of anything new on II, and they didn't really have to. They are dialed in on a very credible, very entertaining sound and approach, and could probably keep cranking out enjoyable albums like this until the party gets shut down.

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