Tuxedo – Tuxedo II review

Nobody could accuse May­er Hawthorne of being lazy, that’s for cer­tain. He seems to have tak­en a leaf from the Prince book of dili­gence, deliv­er­ing at least one new record a year.

Fol­low­ing a solo album and EP and embark­ing on a world tour in 2016, Hawthorne is back just in time for sum­mer with the lat­est Tuxe­do release – his col­lab­o­ra­tive project with pro­duc­er Jake One. The inven­tive­ly titled Tuxe­do II comes two years after the duo’s sparkling epony­mous debut.

The title of their fol­low-up might not betray a lack of imag­i­na­tion as much as it’s an accu­rate descrip­tion of what to expect. The fel­lows keep the good vibes com­ing. Tuxe­do II offers more of the same infec­tious, authen­ti­cal­ly repro­duced 80s elec­tro-funk nos­tal­gia. How­ev­er, although there is no drop in pro­duc­tion qual­i­ty, and you cer­tain­ly won’t be itch­ing to hit the skip but­ton, this sopho­more doesn’t have as much per­son­al­i­ty as its predecessor.

There are a few note­wor­thy dance­floor fillers, such as the catchy, albeit pro­fane, ‘F*x with the Tux’, think a pot­ty-mouthed ver­sion of Michael Jack­son’s ‘Baby Be Mine’; ‘Rota­tion­al’, which owes much of its appeal to the bassline’s sim­i­lar­i­ty to ‘Num­ber One’, and ‘U Like It’. Yet the album doesn’t latch itself to your cra­ni­um as hard and fast as the first Tuxe­do record and it wears out its wel­come much quick­er. Jake and May­er are still work­ing with a good for­mu­la, but it appears they exhaust­ed most of their inspi­ra­tion the first round.

It marks some­thing of a trend. Hawthorne’s out­put has plateaued of late. His lyrics are increas­ing­ly deriv­a­tive and have all the depth of a saucer. “…Girl you’re hot­ter than Juu­ul­l­ly!” Real­ly? You’re going to take Stevie’s lyric and icon­ic album title in vain?

True, 80s elec­tro-soul isn’t renowned for its pro­fun­di­ty. Nev­er­the­less, its grat­ing to hear Hawthorne reduce his female mus­es to objec­ti­fied clichés onto which he projects unre­al­is­tic fan­tasies. Where are the com­plex women of ‘Her Favourite Song’ and ‘Wine Glass Woman’? Where’s the poignan­cy of a ‘I Wish It Would Rain’ or ‘Reach Out Richard’?

Hawthorne might be a vic­tim of his own artis­tic zeal. Per­haps it’s time he took a sab­bat­i­cal, far away from the stu­dio, to expe­ri­ence life anew and bring some fresh­ness to his cre­ativ­i­ty. A rest is as good as a change.


Tuxe­do II is out now on Stones Throw Records.

If you like this artist, check out: Dornik; Boule­vards

Image: Jiro Schneider