TLA’s EP collection New Language is the product of a creative outburst from three artists, The Shins’ Jon Sortland, paper cut artist Tahiti Pehrson, and The Pleased’s Jason Clark come together on this release with spectacular instant chemistry and substantive songwriting far beyond the one-off status the project’s nature may imply. They are peddling a retro sound, but it’s wreathed in modern production values rather than attempting to recapture lightning in a bottle. Their skill pouring old wine into new bottles is notable. The title track begins things on a wholly positive note – it’s difficult, if not impossible, for listeners to not be taken by the cool mid-tempo pace and colorful guitar work defining the title song. TLA places a high premium on atmospheric touches with this release and those are amply present in the EP’s lead off track.

TLA/DOWD RECORDS: https://dowdrecords.com/tla

TLA make a bold move announcing the EP’s release with its title song. The associated connotations with a title track, that it is tantamount to a definitive musical statement, are justified with this recording. Everything about it screams “big screen”. The steady intensity of the guitar work carries listeners away from the beginning and the percussion gives the performance an extra shot of energy. The second track “Look /Cocklieb’s Journey” doesn’t cub as much from the early 1980’s sound of British New Wave and European pop rock, but there are definite nods in that direction mixed with modern compositional flair. The vocal harmonies are especially potent during the first half of this “dual” track.

There is a strong synthesizer presence in the track “Mindbomb” blended with slightly dissonant passages unlike we’ve heard so far from TLA. This track signals a slight turn in the band’s identity; the follow-up to this track, “Midnight Moan”, shatters all of the EP’s established norms with a full frontal punk rock assault that throttles listeners in under a minute. There’s nothing else quite like it on New Language and it stands out despite its short running time. The EP’s last track “Forty Years” is a percussion showcase thanks to the varied tempos it embraces and it is nothing short of impressive how the band manages to encompass an entire musical universe within a small frame of three minutes.

TLA’s New Language will find many fans who enjoy top shelf pop rock fueled by strong guitar and drumming. The vocals for this release are, likewise, worthy of mention – they strike upon some unusual and never conventionally beautiful vocal harmonies that help give four of the EP’s five songs an unexpected idiosyncratic quality.

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Mature and seasoned songwriting is, as well, a defining characteristic of New Language – the years of experience these artists bring to the table helps accentuate the inherent strengths of this release. This deserves to attract a lot of attention and, hopefully, is the first harbinger of a project we’ll hear much more from in coming years. TLA’s New Language makes a memorable impact without taking a single shortcut along the way and invites listeners to keep listening long after their first spin through its songs.

Michael Rand

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