The Tah-Dahs – Le Fun

In “Mix Tape = Love”, Tah-Dahs singer Roy Ivy repeats the phrase “Run to your household with a boombox in the air / I want to hold your hand, I want to touch your hair.” Yes, indeed, that’s a Say Anything reference. And yes, that reference is as deep as Le Fun‘s lyrical content gets.

It isn’t a crime to make an overt reference to a John Cusack movie, but it’ll help you if you go in knowing that you’re not exactly dealing with Leonard Cohen here. The Tah-Dahs churn out light and fluffy jangle-pop that owes a tremendous debt to those hallowed forebears, The Pixies. It’s the little touches that sell the thing, though, like the “Whoo-Hoo-Hoo” background vocals, as well as the tambourines and xylophones that litter the proceedings. “Temporary” is a good example of the formula working as it should: the tight, crunchy guitar work plays perfectly against the stomping drumbeat. The repeated refrain, “Baby, don’t make me temporary,” functions mainly as a structure on which to hang the catchy melody. It, like most of the lyrics, deserves little further examination.

The Tah-Dahs’ frequent attempts at cleverness aren’t very successful. For example, on “The Cute Band”, they ape the Talking Heads’ “Heaven”, but it isn’t clear what they hope to accomplish by doing so. Some of the songs feel like the work of a guy in his late twenties, trying to recapture the earnest and turbulent emotion of his high school relationships. Why else would almost every song be about a girl? Don’t let the titles fool you — they’re all about girls. “New York”, for example, declares, “there’s nothing else to see in New York, but you.” They aren’t talking about the Empire State Building.

Okay, so the Tah-Dahs aren’t perfect; they’re still charming as all hell, and their strengths (namely the sugary simplicity with which they deliver every song) more than make up for their shortcomings. They’re not remotely pretentious, either. Their lyrics and hooks don’t bite too deeply, but the combined pull of all those little barbs can really draw you in for repeated listens. At their best, The Tah-Dahs are reminiscent of early Weezer; like that band, they’re fixated on a lost era of their own innocence, and for that reason alone, some of their naivete can be forgiven. In fact, the band sum up their own strengths and limitations in a single line: “Some people miss the days when every song had a big hook.” Hey, sometimes a big hook is all you need.

Previously published on Splendid

10/7/2005

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