Tender: the UK electro-pop duo for those late and lonely nights

The darling duo Tender, made of James Cullen and Dan Cobb, explore the depths of emotions. Here are three tracks for when you need to feel something.
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Tender / Partisan Records Official Website

Nothing feels more relatable than heartbreak and love. And music has a superhero-like ability to often allow complete strangers from different backgrounds come together to create music that feels like it was made just for us and our unique experience with these types of emotions. Enter James Cullen and Dan Cobb of UK electro-pop duo Tender.

When Cullen and Cobb released their debut album Modern Addiction three years ago, heartbreak was the catalyst. The album told of failed relationships, toxic
behaviors, and moving on in the darkest and best ways your ears could possibly enjoy.

This past January, they released their second LP Fear of Falling Asleep; a soundtrack to those moments when it’s you and your thoughts, right before slumber takes over. Their ability to deliver a creative thematic album, full of self-reflection without forcing derivative pop down your ears lets them standout from many other similar acts.

It’s dope music, so here are three songs off Tender’s Fear of Falling Asleep you can slide into your playlist.

“Handmade Ego”

This song is a haunting sexual fantasy. It explores that gray area of needing someone but not wanting to admit it; when it’s kinda late and some body heat and lovin’ would be pretty nice right now. It’s the track to accompany those 3AM thoughts where you’re lonely and questioning all your life’s decisions that brought you to those cold, crumpled sheets. You wish your insomnia could be this hot. It’s psychedelic R&B; a bedroom mood that is emotionally raunchy without using over the top lyrics. And Cullen’s voice helps elevate this into one sexy, angst-filled track.


“Closer Still”

Tender’s skill at playing ideas on two levels is what makes this song so dope. On first listen, it’s a fun dance track with a disco-y electronic feel that puts you in the frame of mind of Daft Punk. The song is great for all the right reasons. And then you hear the lyrics. You may be triggered listening to James lament about how his would-be love is looking for more from him and he’s not there mentally yet:

You tell me you’re the best I’ll get/
Just don’t know how to treat you yet/
You pin me down, I’ll make you let/
Me do what I like and baby you’re mine

It’s that precarious dance so many of us do in relationships; not fully giving in and trying to maintain that power even though you love them to death. To use a dance beat to host a song speaks on figuratively emotionally dancing around a relationship? Gold star for this.


“Can’t Show My Face”

There are moments in life you need a song to mimic the emotions you feel. This is for those days where teenage-ing, adulting and everything in between feels too hard. Closer to tried and true electro-pop, it examines those feelings of self-doubt you get when it’s just you and your insecurities all snuggled up in the comforter together. Good times, right? Lyrically, Tender gives voice to depression and fear in such a poetic and sympathetic way:

You don’t try explain yourself to anyone/
Or know exactly how to feel/
We’re on the wrong side of the tracks again/
The grass ain’t greener standing still

What saves this song from becoming the Eeyore of electro-pop is actually the production.Tender works on two levels, remember? Lighter synths are mixed in and the track rises and falls, curated to pick you up with the chorus. The drum pattern amps you up and acts as the rallying cry to pull you out of your funk by the end of the song. It’s sad enough to tap your inner demons but it doesn’t leave you in the hole you went down. Play this song after you’ve had a rough day and
you need a quick vent session in the car.


Tender has also launched a world tour in support of this fantastic album so after you’ve given the album a listen, you can go here to find out when they’ll be in your area.

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