Tender Madness, the new release by Los Angeles locals PAPA, really seeps under your skin. The songs massage their way into your body, until the grooves swim around in your blood stream like you’ve had a feel-good injection. More tender than mad, the 12 track offering is a burst of swarve, smooth, soulful rock. There’s a dapper cockiness to singer Darren Weiss’s vocals that is as sexy as it is assured. He’s a real crooner, and the fact that he plays the drums as he sings with such poise is pretty impressive. I remember being asked to bang out a basic 4/4 time beat for my high school music class back in 8th grade and literally channeling every fiber of my being into the task at hand, and it still sounded like someone pulled out the bottom apple of a supermarket display. Imagine singing like a lady-killer while back boning pure pop hits. Read: Impressive.

By the end of this record, you kind of feel like you’ve been hit on. Like PAPA have been giving you the eye, buying you drinks, asking you to dance. The biggest flirt is the song ‘Cotton Candy’, which also happens to be a total fucking JAM. The percussion snaps and taps in all the right places, as Weiss croons “Me and everyone I know; we’re going to hell.” Half way through listening to this album, I decided I needed a rum and coke. This desire was brought upon by another total jam, ‘If the Moon Rises’, which has you dueting your heart out with Weiss as he sings “Run honey run, I’ll always let you go” over and over. It’s not all seductive pop, though. Tender Madness is peppered with traces of anthemic rock –  single “Put Me to Work” and “If You’re My Girl, Then I’m Your Man’ sound like they were destined for stadium glory. There’s a a sort of ’80’s dance vibe to some of the tracks too, and some jarring rock n roll thrown in as well – almost as if a similar sound could come of a collaboration with Pulp and Arcade Fire.

I was lucky enough to catch these guys play their new album live at the Wiltern in LA a couple of weeks back, and the songs really come alive on the stage. They totally own their sound, and they’re the kind of band you see and think “These guys know what they are doing, and they are really good at doing it.”

Tender Madness is out now through Loma Vista.



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