TLA’s five song EP release New Language is the fruit of a collaboration between members of The Pleased and The Shins along with paper cut artist Tahiti Pehrson and guest Miguel Aldana. The title track and opening song on the release recalls a strong British New Wave influence and while it has a strong commercial vibe it is clear TLA are aiming to cut tracks several notches above pastiches. The layered and polished production don’t sound like an indie band at all; the band’s three core members possess a clear vision for TLA’s sound and execute it with precision. This may be a coming together of talent, but it has all the hallmarks of a band that might prove to be more than an one off project for its participants – the material and performances are too convincing to suggest otherwise.
“New Language” has a confident mid-tempo stride and the effects laden guitar work creates cinematic atmospherics in short order. Reverb is the pre-dominant effect you hear throughout the course of the EP and surrounds the six-string work with tactile physicality. The vocals throughout the EP are never limited to one voice and the mix of singing approaches gives an added emotional lift it might not otherwise have and complement the guitar work well. There’s a strong presence of electronic music throughout the release, without surprise, but TLA uses synths and keyboard sounds in an artful fashion.
“Look / Cocklieb’s Journey” is one of the more interesting numbers on this EP. TLA slow things down from the comparatively brisk opener. It has a more texturized and layered approach than TLA displays with the EP opener and the stylish subtlety embedded into this performance makes it one of the EP’s early highlights. Presenting such a decisive musical turn on the heels of the EP’s first cut highlights their musical acumen – they are determined New Language presents us with a variety of musical faces. “Mindbomb” and “Midnight Moan” brings listeners face to face with the rugged side of the band’s personality. The former track couples a more aggressive sonic presentation with a number of the composition quirks scattered throughout the first two performances while the latter is curt blistering shot of modern punk breaking through the EP’s hitherto placid surface and singeing your hair.
“Forty Years” ends the EP on a stylistically familiar note but with challenging drumming brought into the mix. There’s a personal touch distinguishing this song in a different way than the earlier cuts, but the entirety of New Language is notable for the accessibility of the performances. These are tracks any rock admirer can embrace and has appeal for both young and older listeners alike. Experiments like these bringing members of different bands and sensibilities together either work or they don’t, there’s previous little middle ground, but TLA’s New Language is one of the more successful examples of such an union in recent history. It is a brief but powerful musical statement with staying power. It promises even greater things from any longer release they may choose pursuing.