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Tuxedo ‘Tuxedo’ – Album Review

Stones Throw Records (2015)

An unlikely alliance between Grammy-nominated neo-soul crooner Mayer Hawthorne and Seattle boom-bap producer Jake One (50 Cent, G-Unit), the aptly-named Tuxedo couldn’t have timed the retro disco-funk of their self-titled debut album any better.

Arriving just weeks after Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars propelled the sounds of The Gap Band, Steve Arrington and The Whispers back into the charts, these twelve unashamedly old-school tunes find the duo mining a virtually identical party vibe.

Not that Tuxedo can be accused of jumping on a bandwagon. “So Good,” “Get U Home” and “Do It” first appeared on a mysteriously-uploaded E.P. nearly two years ago, and the latter has already received the sampling treatment, courtesy of everyone’s favorite rent-a-rapper Pitbull.

Sadly, there’s nothing on here quite as majestic as “Uptown Funk;” but “Number One,” a feel-good reworking of Snoop & Nate Dogg’s G-funk classic “Ain’t No Fun,” and the slinky falsetto-led “Watch the Dance” both come close, while the constant array of bass slaps, gleaming synths and slinky beats ensure that the record remains feel-good throughout, if also a little repetitive.

Tuxedo isn’t quite as effortless when it offers a change of pace. “Two Wings” is an R&B slow jam so corny that you half expect it to come equipped with a free shag rug and silk robe matching combo, while “Tuxedo Groove” is an aimless instrumental which throws everything from porno guitar solos to fairground organs into one forgettable Muzak mix.

Free from the irony of Chromeo’s output and the indulgence of Justin Timberlake’s 20/20 Experiences, Tuxedo is undoubtedly one of the more authentic and affectionate tributes to the dancefloor sounds of yesteryear we’ve had lately. But considering Hawthorne and One’s pedigree, it’s a little disappointing that they opted to play it so safe.

3 / 5 stars     

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About the Author


Jon O'Brien's love of music began as a six-year-old after becoming bizarrely transfixed with the 80s poodle rock of Heart, Europe and Def Leppard. Switching his attention to pop icon Michael Jackson, he then became addicted to the UK Top 40, becoming a rather pointless walking Wikipedia of chart positions in the process. Driving his poor neighbors up the wall while learning to play the drums as a teen, he toyed with the idea of becoming a musician, but in studying Journalism at the University of Central Lancashire, he realized heÕd rather write about music than perform it. Since then, he's written thousands of reviews and biographies on everything from bubblegum pop to death metal, but electronica remains his main passion, with everything from Aphex Twin to Zero 7 in his spare room-consuming record collection. Jon resides in northwest England near Liverpool.

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