Album Review: Blue Hawaii’s Search for Affection

An Insight in the Duo’s Newest Album Release

(left to right) Raphaelle ‘Ra’ Standell and Alexander ‘Agor’ Kerby on the album cover for Tenderness. Courtesy ARBUTUS Records

Montreal-based electro-pop duo Blue Hawaii expresses the complications behind trying to maintain a long-distance relationship in their latest album, Tenderness.

Released on Oct. 6 and formed by Raphaelle ‘Ra’ Standen and Alexander ‘Agor’ Kerby, Blue Hawaii opens their third album with Standen questioning if her partner has had thoughts about her in the song “Free at Last.”

“Looking up at the new clouds and wondering if you’re looking at the moon where I am,” Standen whispers softly in the track.

The melody doesn’t centre around painful situations, but incorporates different musical textures that inspire this duo to experiment with any sort of harmony they have in mind.

Kerby puts aside his acoustic guitar and uses a violin effect from his mixing board, making it sound as if there were several violinists strumming along to the thumping drum pad. Both melodies combined together helped to embellish a 1970s disco vibe, flushing out memories for when indoor roller skating was cool.

Before Blue Hawaii’s new album, the duo would use smooth melodies to easily segue into the next track.

A good example of this is the track “Pregame.” A recording of a sports commentator vaguely explaining an important sporting event opens up the track until Standen’s mumbling voice slowly makes an appearance. Her vocals creep inside the continuous thumping beat, effortlessly transitioning into the next song, “Versus Game.”

Tenderness is the duo’s unexpected return after a four year absence since their 2013 release Untogether.

While Untogether was based around one seeking love, Tenderness is about trying to maintain a long-distance relationship.

Blue Hawaii’s previous works from Untogether acted as a basic foundational element to build off of the theme for maintaining closeness at a distance.

The duo combines a skipping drum beat with an acoustic guitar ballad in the song, “Try to Be,” where Standen pours her heart out trying to represent her long-distance partner.

“But I’m supposed to be you and I try to be you. But I thought I’d be you, but I’ll never be,” Standen softly sings.

Other former songs such as their dreamier-pop melody “Dream Electrixra,” from their 2010 release, Blooming Summer, acted as a template for expressing the need for tenderness.

Blue Hawaii’s search for tenderness is scattered throughout the album, emphasizing the very human feeling of longing for love.

There is a ribbon that keeps this duo tied together despite their four year hiatus, and it’s using themes that circulate around one’s need for love.

Tenderness is about the willingness for sending vibes of love at a distance; the final word is keeping it alive.

Blue Hawaii // Tenderness