London duo TENDER‘s upcoming debut album “Modern Addiction” (out 9/1) is an intrinsically modern look at the irrepressible desire to maintain a love, be it destined or doomed. It sounds like catharsis. From orgasm, to break-up, to silence, the record breaths closure to a relationship that has intensified, shattered, and healed. James Cullen and Dan Cobb’s debut full length, explores the phenomenon of comfort and compulsion that is addiction, via a pop record about a relationship.
Cullen frames familiar feelings for us to relate to and digest, but simultaneously undermines their presence, leaving the listener holding the same hollow heart that he carried through his addiction. Cobb’s soaring synths and progressive percussion are waxed and shined by the album’s sleek club mix, and the juxtaposition with Cullen’s lyrics is heartbreaking.
Cullen and Cobb formed TENDER in 2015, as the bedroom project of two flatmates tired of the design-by-committee nature of larger musical groups. Due to their intimate personal geography, Cobb was privy to the “toxic” relationship that gestated Cullen’s lyrics, and this record. Gladly enough, in regards to music-making with Cobb, “Nothing seemed like a struggle. We never fought anything,” Cullen remembers. They self-released a few songs and “Armour” wound up on the front page of Reddit a few hours later (with several hundred thousand plays on Soundcloud). Two years and three EPs later, TENDER now have tens of millions of streams across Soundcloud, Spotify and YouTube and have enjoyed Hype Machine’s #1 spot several times with several different tracks.
TENDER’s “Modern Addiction” provides fresh perspective to the idea of addiction, through the lens of love. It is unafraid to admit or to accuse, eager to confide and to provide, in direct, shimmering confessionals. The irony is that Cullen seems to have not been afforded these luxuries in his personal relationship, and observing his self-portrait leaves the listener feeling similarly ephemeral and isolated. All save for that of his musical relationship with Cobb, who’s dynamic and punctual dark-pop flavor echoes his bandmate’s struggle with audible landscapes appropriately smooth in their tones and jagged in their turns. Modern Addiction is a window to overdose, intervention, relapse, and sobriety. For the listener, it’s the experience of being on both sides of the glass.
“melodically heavy electro-pop… vibrant and entrancing” – Stereogum
“Sparse, imaginative pop music laced with electronics” – CLASH
“Obsession with modern technology/media/status. Participation pulling you from reality into an artificial world and in a way being controlled by the powers that be. Turning real feeling things into machines to serve a purpose.”–TENDER (on lead single “Machine”)