A funky yet melancholic guitar melody moodily introduces There’s a New Sheriff in Town, the second album by Tandem Felix – a Dublin-based project of David A. Tapley in collaboration with producer Stephen Dunne. Bathing in an expansive ocean of shoegazey dream pop, the album opens with ‘Finger on the Button’, paving the way for the arioso sound to follow. The title track ‘There’s a New Sheriff in Town’ boasts a sound reminiscent of Beach House, while standing firmly in bestowing its unique sensibility.
The nine-track album exemplifies the progression of Tandem Felix as a project since their debut Rom-Com, released in October 2019. After a four-year hiatus, the Tandem Felix sound has evolved from intensely colourful and poppy to a more stripped-back, genuine sound. Still dripping with colour, There’s a New Sheriff in Town exudes maturity and possesses a strong sense of self. Production is kept to a minimum with guitar, drums, piano and bass taking the bulk of instrumentation. The addition of electronic production and string accompaniment in ‘Message of the Afternoon’ in particular introduces an element of country to the album, paving the way for a compounding country sound throughout the rest of the album.
Texturally rich, There’s a New Sheriff in Town manifests an all-encompassing sound, epitomising the growth in collaborative symbiosis between Tapley and Dunne. Delving into a darker consciousness, the second Tandem Felix album is enriched with personal intent, shining through heavily in the instrumentation and the album artwork, with elements to be recognised in the lyricism. The mood takes a turn down in contrast to the vibrant nature of Rom-Com, but what it loses in its pop nature, it gains in tenderness. Lyrically, the album leaves idealism at the door and embraces a cloudier vision of the world: ‘Watching TV for the hell of it, looking at the pictures on the screen without the sound on’.
Unruly and unreliable narration guides the lyrical storytelling, with a melodious sound weaving throughout the album, fighting to restore balance and stability. With artwork alluding to a minor dark night of the soul, There’s a New Sheriff in Town expertly executes a tone of growth and maturity – jaded only slightly by a global pandemic straddling the release of the first and second albums. With depth and subtle storytelling, Tandem Felix broadly evades the dreaded sophomore slump to produce a considered, delightful album. Ciara Byrne