“You know what people say about songs, right?” Emm asks. “They’re like your children, and you can’t have a favorite child – but, secretly, every parent does. If I had to admit to my secret favorite child, it would probably be ‘Invisible Ways’ because it informed a lot about how we went forward. That song just has kind of a sweet quality to me that is not papered over.”
The rest of Highlights moves with similar vivacity. Emm’s cooed chorus on “Slipping Away” pairs effortlessly with brisk, chirping Afropop-inspired guitar (which should further those continual comparisons to Vampire Weekend, Tanlines’ former tourmates). In one of the album’s more pensive moments, “Running Still,” he groans the refrain “I’m old enough to know better” atop Cohen’s broad synths and pointillist jabs of brass. The echoing mix derives from Taylor’s studio inside a grand, 100-year-old Lutheran church not far from this coffee shop. “You hear actual air and space from that room. You hear more of a human element than before,” says Cohen. “The church was like Chris’ instrument on this album. He knows how to use that space.”
Tanlines will soon hit the road on a national tour (the dates are available on the band’s ingenious new website. We won’t spoil the surprise; suffice to say, the layout rings a bell). On the road, the men are committed to creating an atypical dance party in every way.
“The thing about our music is it’s a balance between light and dark, happy and sad. The music will be happy, but there’ll be a sort of melancholic aspect to the vocal,” says Emm, over the last dregs of his coffee. “I don’t really know where it comes from. I’m not a sad person, necessarily.”
He grins, a full-on beam that removes all possible doubt. “I’m not tortured in any way.”