There’s something so inviting about Tep No’s music. Whether it’s the general sense of calm that encircles you with every track, or his sultry vocals that shift from deep and resonant to brilliant falsetto with unimaginable ease;there’s just something there that catches you and pulls you in immediately. That’s exactly what happens with his latest release “Toluca Lake.” It’s a whimsical electronic ballad about the difficulties of showing love when you feel as though you’re lost. As Tep No puts it, the song touches perfectly on “this constant limbo, feeling like you're misunderstood when it comes to love, feeling like you're pushing people away when you want to bring them closer to you.” Everything about this track embodies that sentiment accurately.
Encased in reverb, and accentuated by the lapping of gentle waves, Tep No eases us into “Toluca Lake” with a brilliantly finger-plucked guitar melody that aches of hopeful melancholy; that sadness within that you know can be defeated. The gentle accompaniment of muted drums and rhythmic shakers is ushered in with a crooning hum that touches perfectly on the track’s subject matter. “I do what I want, don’t do what I’m told/been running on the edge with your heart in a choke hold.” This introductory line is a moving description of a love in trouble, a lover asking him for certain things, but him refusing in favor of his own desires. Tempting dissolution of their relationship by strangling the other with his own ideas of love.
Before bringing in the chorus, a wonderfully light and melodic synthesized flute drifts into the production with bright confidence. The chorus acknowledges our subject’s own realization of his inability to provide proper love: “I don’t know how to give you my love/’cause I’m too good at fuckin’ it up/maybe I could change, by now you should know, everything is strange and going out of control.” It’s a relenting plea, an urge to change, but anchored to the fear of being unable.
Tep No claims that “Toluca Lake” is probably his favorite song to date, and there’s no surprise as to why. It’s an astonishingly simple production that depicts an unbelievably complex emotional state; with an unbelievable level of effortlessness, no less. It’s catchy, charming, emotional, and deep; and given the time of year of its release, a poignant song to usher us into the coming winter.