The calliope that kicks in halfway through "Hard to Remember" is the first indication that Nashville songwriter David Mead has no interest in the traditional. Blending rich harmonies with clattering, off-kilter instrumentation, Tangerine is a singer-songwriter record for people who don't like singer-songwriter records. Veering hard away from dry acoustics and woe-is-me plaints, Mead instead favors multicolored melodies, the kind of layered pop practiced by Jon Brion and Harry Nilsson. Mead has a rich, throaty voice, and he coasts from husky tenor to smoky falsetto easily and breezily. But despite Mead's vocal strengths, it's the instrumentation that steals the show; "Chatterbox" gets terrifically tripped up in a brass-band breakdown and "Reminded #1" is a tapestry of cross-hatched vocals. With its endless hooks and indelible choruses, Tangerine is never saccharine, but always sweet.
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