Tart - These Are Not Love Songs

Review by Dom Vigil

Only five songs in length, new wave pop duo, Tart have created a journey with their new EP, These Are Not Love Songs. Kicking off with strong guitar and bass laced with staccato vocals, the EP builds up tension right from the beginning before morphing into big choruses, gorgeous vocal runs, and a simple but beautiful final track that is sure to blow you away.

The instrumentals in the first track, “Buzz,” have this eerie sense of urgency that propel it forward. At first listen, the vocals don’t seem to mesh very well with the rest of the song, as the instrumentals are very polished and flow well, while the vocals are staccato and disconnected, but as “Buzz” progresses, it grows and the vocals seem to fit the strong bass and guitar work more and more. The following track, “Hello” is more on the electronic side, and the instrumentals seem to really match those disconnected, short vocals runs. Where “Buzz” is carried heavily by the instrumentals, the vocals in “Hello” are really strong, especially in the chorus, where vocalist Zee Bricker holds out these gorgeous long notes. The duo really seems to utilize the buildup and comedown in this song, as it grows and grows before releasing tension and flowing into quieter, soft moments.

As it goes on, this EP feels much more than just a pop duo, because each track feels very full and polished. In fact, one of the only things that doesn’t sit well with me is how some of the vocal work sounds disconnected from the instrumentals, but those moments are few and far between. For instance, “Nebraska” starts off a little rough, but by the time the big chorus comes in, the vocals and instrumentals are meshing amazingly.

“Miss Me” is rather simplistic compared to the EP’s other tracks, but the following final song, “Stasis” is beautiful and haunting. With simple guitar and strong vocals carrying the song, it’s soft compared to the other tracks, which is a nice change of pace. Easily some the strongest vocals can be found on this song, which really stands out from the pack and shines with super simple instrumentals and proves the duo’s versatility. Zee Bricker and Adam Michael Lee Padden have proven that they can write catchy poppy anthems, such as “Buzz” and “Hello,” but also super simple and beautiful stripped down tracks like “Stasis,” and the result is a surprisingly diverse release from the duo. I would kill to hear how Tart would explore their sound even more on a full-length.

Rating: 4/5

Listen to "Hello" or "Stasis"