Formed in 2015, London duo Tender is still in its beginning phases. However, it’s obvious that members James Cullen and Dan Cob have worked together since grade school (and also have spent multiple years as flatmates) by the cohesive sound of their music. Between 2015 and now, Tender have moved from self-releasing a few songs to releasing three EPs, and they are back from a short break this September with their first full length album, Modern Addiction. Back in November of last year I wrote a piece on their third EP, and they’ve definitely been going strong since then.
Modern Addiction is the chronicle of the downfall of James Cullen’s long-term relationship. On the band’s Facebook page it explains that “due to their intimate personal geography, Cobb was privy to the ‘toxic’ relationship that gestated Cullen’s lyrics, and this record.” Each song delves into a different aspect of love, relationships, or “the unreliable polarity of human magnetics.” However, this is not a depressing album – Tender are able take the theme in a positive direction with songs such as “Machine” and “Powder,” where the beats are more upbeat and where change could be around the corner.
Perhaps because it tells a story or was focused on a theme, Modern Addiction has a definite cohesion in the songs and sound, but it means that the album doesn’t move very far away from the three EPs, with few exceptions. The same synthesizer and (albeit very interesting) electronic beats run through the entire album, with the lyrics being the only noticeable element of change. The lyrics are very good, self-aware, and psychologically interesting.
The album kicks off with the song “Illuminate,” which “describes a struggle for independence in the face of scale-tipping dominance.” It explains to us how to say “no” and introduces us to the problem.” Just when I thought I’d heard all that the album had to offer, the final song, “Trouble,” surprised me: it has a great beat and ties the whole album together with the recorded voice that featured in “Illumination.”
Listen to Modern Addiction here, and if you like it, Tender will be at the Songbyrd in DC on the 24th of September!
photos from Tender Facebook page