Jesse Cohen and Eric Emm of Tanlines.

Columbine Goldsmith

A lot of musicians are wary of running into the dreaded sophomore slump after releasing a highly regarded debut album. But fear is not why it took electro-rock duo Tanlines three years to release “Highlights,” the follow up to their first album, “Mixed Emotions.” The “problem” was, their first album was so darn successful it kept them too busy.

“We toured about two years, which is why it took about a year longer than we would have liked to put out a new album,” Tanlines’s Jesse Cohen tells us, while taking a short break from recording his “No Effects” podcast. Anyway, he thinks comparisons are often more about the listener than the music: “People inevitably compare your second album to your first one, but I think what they’re also comparing is where they are in their lives compared to where they were when the first album came out.”

Go bigger with what you do best
Regardless of how you look at it, the second album has only given the band more momentum — critics, such as Rolling Stone, and fans are both loving it, which may be because Cohen and his Tanlines partner Eric Emm amplified what made them successful the first go-around. “Going into ‘Highlights,’ our goal was to stretch what we could do; whatever Tanlines did, we wanted to make it more so,” Cohen says. “Our band has always been this mixture between electronic sounds and live or acoustic sounds or whatever and on this album it’s just a wider sort of mixture than before on the first album.”
Call in the help
The guys recorded part of the album in Emm’s parents’ basement in Pittsburgh and recorded the rest of it in a church in Greenpoint with Chris Taylor from Grizzly Bear, the first time they’d enlisted the help of a producer. “It was a little harder for Eric than it was for me because he’s used to being his own editor,” Cohen says. “So it took him a little while to get into it, but it was what we needed and wanted to do on this album. We wanted to get another person’s aesthetic.”
Create some buzz
To coinside with the new album’s release, Cohen had the idea of transforming their website into a parody of Netflix, including listing “top picks” and a movie or TV show that went along with each stop on their tour. “People kept telling me Netflix was going to sue us, but they’re totally into it,” Cohen says, and just a peak at Tanlines’s Twitter feed shows a playful relationship between the two, with Netflix often tweeting Tanlines’s song lyrics.
“We also have a billboard by the Williamsburg Bridge,” Cohen says of another promotional project he’s proud of. “It’s very funny and was designed by our friend Teddy Blanks, who also helped with our website. It’s an achievement.”
Click here for Jesse Cohen's worst roommate story and favorite Brooklyn spots.
Tanlines in concert:
July 24, 9 p.m.
Voyeur Nightclub
1221 St. James St., 215-735-5772
July 25, 7 p.m.
The Sinclair
52 Church St., Cambridge
Follow Emily on Twitter: @EmLaurence
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