Tender are James Cullen (don’t worry, I said Cullen, not Corden) and Dan Cobb, a London duo who make mid-fi R&B. Their new album, Fear Of Falling Asleep, is being hailed as a career high for them If tracks as such as the title track and Closer Still are anything to go by then they could just be about to turn a lot of heads. LP and CD on Partisan.
Vinyl LP £18.49 £16.64 PTKF2159-1
Black vinyl, gatefold LP on Partisan Records.
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CD £7.99 PTKF2159-2
CD on Partisan Records.
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Fear of Falling Asleep is second album from London duo Tender. There’s is an apt name, as their music is lo-fi R&B which for the most part is gentle and thoughtful, lying somewhere on the sensitive male vocalist lead R&B spectrum laid out by the likes of Rhye and The Weeknd. Albeit wear the album’s bedroom production on their sleeve.
The combination of James Cullen’s vocal performance and Dan Cobb’s production is potent. This was an album written while completely anxiety-ridden and together they more than successfully manage to channel that right into my ears. The anxiety is found in the spaces they leave, every moment sounds like it could be the album’s last, as though Tender will become overwhelmed by it all and just give up.
All that said, my favourite song on the album is likely ‘Closer Still’ where the production suddenly ramps up and to reach the head heights of funky and fun. Somehow James Cullen’s voice, a falsetto that sounds destined to end up in a lo-fi R&B band, works here too. But a song like this can only be so powerful if the preceding seven slowly ramp up the tension to the point where you need a release. You crave it. And between the enormous bass, the cheesy piano, and the groovy guitar, Tender well and truly provide.
Though the production is slightly less inventive than we’ve become used to from the band’s R&B peers (I’m thinking of SZA, Blood Orange, Solange…), they sell their mood so well that it’s easy to forgive. Especially if you’re looking for an uncomfortable ride.
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