“International” The Tender Idols, 1997
b/w “Careful” Live at Smith’s Olde Bar 11/96, “Sunlover” demo
On their first single since the release of their debut, self-titled album, a single only available at the band’s live shows, this Atlanta quartet offer up a series of different versions of tracks from the album. The a-side, “International,” rerecorded in November of 1996 delivers a harder, more driving, less polished rock n’ roll version of their version of the perfect pop song. The gutars and drums on this song leap around all too appropriately with the lyrical jaunt “international, fly around the world til you don’t care.” The first b-side, a live version of their biggest crowd-pleaser, “Careful” reveals the band at their gritty, live best. Recorded in November when the band opened for Modern English, the band, clearly nervous about being captured on tape, display their characteristic on-stage energy. The final track, a demo version of the ballad “Sunlover” reveals a not-often heard intimacy in vocalist Ian Webber’s voice, but not much else. It is nice, but the sickly sweet lyrics, will make you wonder why you are singing along. It’s almost touching, yet almost puke-worthy in its cheesiness. Finally, stuck on the end as a secret track, is the most interesting part of the single - a remixed, rerecorded dance version of “Careful.” With distorted vocals and a semi-pounding drum beat, it is an interesting excursion by this pop-band into unfamiliar territory. Unfortunately, it is also somewhat clear how unfamiliar this territory is. They have the right idea, but they don’t quite seem to take it far enough, and the end result is a pop song with a drum machine and some moaning “oh oh oh’s”. The Tender Idols are a band with a great deal of unrealized potential, and it is wonderful to see them exploring a bit, however, as six months passed between the release of the album and the release of the single, the choice of a track listing begs the question “What about new songs?” Certainly the chosen tracks are crowd pleasers, and will invite sales from fans fresh from hearing the music live, but the complete lack of new material suggests a creative breakdown, or some nasty writer’s block, and does not bode well for a group still in search of a record deal. But for now we can be patient, we can sit back, listen to yet another taste of what this band might do and wait on the new stuff.