For his latest, Tangled Heart, Portland’s Dakota Theim digs in deep to a blissfully hooky 1970s vibe, proof perhaps that he spent a decent amount of the pandemic listening to ELO, Supertramp, and Badfinger. And we’re all the better for it.
The nine tracks here – heavy on synth, guitar, and Theim’s distinctive falsetto throughout – sound impressively polished despite being recorded in his home studio. The record was later mixed in Los Angeles by Daniel McNeill and mastered by Timothy Stollenwerk. Far from being yet another quarantine bedroom record though, Tangled Heart is expansive, experimental, and surprisingly cheery given the themes and what was going on in the world when it was written.
“…Tangled Heart is a collection of songs that I wrote and recorded in my parent’s living room over the first year and a half of the pandemic,” he said recently. “It started out as an experiment to get better at self-recording and ended up being a full-length record that I am super proud of. It’s an album about the process of self-discovery through the trials and tribulations of a long-term love affair that is no longer working out.”
The album opener and first single, “Losing Sleep” perfectly kicks off the record’s theme with a relatable mix of self-pity and guilt backed by an addictive chorus and dreamy synths. The title track sounds like prime Jeff Lynne, deftly mixing synthetic strings with solid electric guitar and sweet falsetto vocals. The same can be said of the bouncy “You Don’t Have To Lie” that veers into hippie-era Beatles territory. The record closes on “Feel No Pain,” one of the strongest moments on the album.
At nine tracks, Tangled Heart is perfectly timed – not so long that the songs start to sound to similar but short enough that you want to hear more. The record serves as a solid follow-up to Somewhere Under The Sun, and a great intro for the uninitiated.