Outside, Tapes 'n Tapes third studio album, is kind of like that really annoying friend that you only keep around because every now and then they do something interesting that will make for a good story later on. For every fun and catchy moment on the record, there's another typical and outright boring match for it waiting on the next track to make you forget what made you enjoy the last - and it's only in those rare enjoyable moments that Tapes 'n Tapes show their real potential. Hiding behind the bells and whistles that saturate most of the record in a vain attempt to make it slightly more interesting, there is a band that really wants to make music for an audience, but something is holding them back.
The groups' forty-five minute LP starts with "Badaboom" a quick, enjoyable track not too uncommon on many indie-pop records present in today's congested scene, but soon afterward it begins to decline into an uninspired, dragging record that only slightly keeps its mouth above the water to sustain a little life. For the first five tracks, Tapes 'n Tapes do a fine job of sustaining the energy that many indie-pop bands thrive upon, producing some very fun and memorable songs such as the toe-tapping "SWM" or the delightfully boisterous "One in the World" which introduces horns and subtle chimes to the mostly stagnant musicianship. However, once "Outro" ends and "Freak Out" begins with its deceivingly upbeat guitar licks, the real feel of the record begins to show its face. The lyricism which was nothing to write home about to begin with, paired with Josh Grier's dull tone over the desperately energetic music makes for a falsified sense of liveliness and soon the album lies itself down in its own grave holding a bouquet of clichés. It abuses the inspiration of bands such as Phoenix or maybe even a pinch of The Killers in order to lazily stride past any worthwhile lyricism or memorable moments past the first few tracks.
To the group's credit, they decently begin and even end the record in a memorable fashion, but what lies in between is forgettable at best and makes no real effort to display any of the band's talents - and they certainly have them. If the record were more devoted to the energy and stylish charisma of the beginning and ending tracks, then it could easily be one of the most enjoyable records to start the year off - unfortunately, that road wasn't taken. It's adequate for the singles that could come from it, but for what's leftover, it's nothing short of an uninspired, boring clutter of a record. There are the catchy drum patterns and the slick guitar riffs, as well as the damn good bass lines in several tracks, but the droning feel of the last half of the record simply can't compensate for what lacks in both lyricism and creative effort. Perhaps it would be best to not cross our fingers for a fresh approach to indie-pop in 2011.