Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?
Axe Riverboy is the solo project of Tahiti 80’s Xavier Boyer. Astute readers will notice that the name of the project is simply an anagram of Boyer’s own name. This proves a fitting metaphor for his debut Axe effort, Tutu to Tango, as it finds him simply rearranging the sounds and ideas he refined with his previous group in an effort to create something new if vaguely familiar. Unfortunately, he only succeeds by half.The most (if only) noticeable difference between Boyer’s work here and his work with Tahiti 80 is the eschewing of the latter’s electronic sheen for more acoustic leanings. His frail voice, soft melodies and lyrics still anchor the proceedings. The problem here, as it was before for Boyer, is that that anchor fails to possess much weight. His lyrics often aim for subtle intimacy but stop short, often bordering on anonymous with little to make them pop. With less polish and instrumentation to hide in this time around, that fact becomes even more obvious.
Itâ€šÃ„Ã´s not as if the album lacks any merit or potential. “Roundabout” is a relatively spry rocker where Boyer lets an electric guitar into the low-key party with moderately pleasing results. Likewise, penultimate track “Cross the Line” leads with plaintive cellos and piano and finds him pouring his soul (or what little he can) out. These highlights prove that Boyer sincerely wants to share something with listeners, but the meekness of the majority of material here seems to indicate that there simply may not a lot there to share.