The Temper Trap- Album Review

The Temper Trap

2012

The heavy, driving synths and powerful vocals of Dougy Mandagi open The Temper Trap’s self-titled second record. After selling nearly half a million copies of their debut, Conditions, the Melbourne band regrouped and have turned out an album of broad musical vision.

Turning away from the soft rock of Sweet Disposition, the opening track, Need Your Love, is a festival geared, sing-a-long rock number with heavy drums and a huge chorus. They may have abandoned the sound of their smash hit, but the radio-feel remains.

We’re then steered through a curious post punk number with London’s Burning, which opens with news reel interviews taken during the course of the London riots last August. The chorus harmonies are spat out above clangy guitar and and pitch bent synth notes. The punk revival party ends abruptly with the next track Trembling Hands, which resurrects their love of sweeping, epic choruses and echoed vocals. It’s a standout track, with an insatiable hook and a spaced, soaring backing.

The reverb remains on The Sea is Calling, a bittersweet soft rock that weaves intricate guitar patterns around the waves of Mendagi’s vocals. Likewise on later track Rabbit Hole, a creepy, acoustic song that evolves into a heavy guitar jam.

There are smatterings of influences all over this album, such as the odd eighties feel of Miracle, and the U2 sounding This Isn’t Happiness. The spectre of Radiohead is ever present, particularly on the softer, slower tracks. Where Do We Go From Here sounds like what would happen if Prince and R.EM decided to collaborate on a sci-fi film.

The griping hooks return with Never Again, but retract quickly with the surprisingly weak tracks of Dreams and I’m Gonna Wait.

The finishing song, Leaving the Heartbreak Hotel, is a splutter of piano and electro beats under an Anthony Kiedis inspired vocal. It spaces out toward the end in an ocean of guitar noise before falling back to earth with the sharp piano chords.

Perhaps because they’ve trodden the boards and proved themselves, The Temper Trap is a comfortable record, not spreading beyond the indie/rock/electronic world that they’ve wound themselves in. That being said, it’s a much more expansive record than their first, chucking in influences from all over the place. At it’s core though, it’s pure and distilled Temper Trap.

 

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Temper Trap does Radiohead, kind of….

 

The Temper Trap, “Rabbit Hole”

The Temper Trap, 2012 (To be released 18th May)

I double checked, triple checked and quadruple checked to see if this was a cover of a Radiohead song, such was my conviction that it was. But alas, no it wasn’t- it was just The Temper Trap attempting to be Radiohead.

Released as a precursor to the ‘official’ single (Need Your Love), this track is pretty unassuming. Not uninteresting by a long shot- it builds to a spacey, alt-rock crescendo by the end- but it is lacking in musical ideas.

The tortured, feminine vocals open the track, over a soft acoustic guitar. It’s gentle and quite relaxing, but the disadvantage is that anyone hearing it will immediately think of Ok Computer, so strong is the similarity. The Temper Trap are trying to model themselves as the younger Radiohead, that much is blatantly obvious.

The vocals are drenched in reverb, and strengthen considerably when he opens up and starts to belt out a few notes. If only we could actually decipher what we’re actually hearing.

Screeching guitars start off the chorus, a wailing echoed, rock affair. It’s airy and ethereal, following the lifted vocals up into the clouds. Lasting for over a minute, it’s a fulfilling chorus, a prime red hunk of meat for ravenous fans who have been bereft since Sweet Disposition.It’s reminiscent of that track also, in terms of the epic, soaring crescendo.

It’s a satisfying end to what started out as a fairly simple song, and it’s a good taster of their highly anticipated album.