Release Date: Oct 13, 2009
Record label: Glassnote
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
The Temper Trap spent the earliest part of this year teetering on the edge of most people’s tips for 2009 lists, but this debut should see the Melbourne quartet swiftly elevated above many who were initially placed higher than them. Produced by Jim Abbiss (he of ‘Whatever People Say I Am…’ fame), the likes of ‘Love Lost’ and single ‘Sweet Disposition’ employ the same echoing histrionics as ‘The Joshua Tree’, but with a charming, cooed falsetto taking the place of Bono’s odious bellow. ‘Soldier On’ and ‘Resurrection’ continue along this vein, pitching them as a more sussed Coldplay that it’s definitely OK to like.
Those with a taste for restraint are advised to look away now: the Temper Trap are not a band with the slightest concept of asceticism. Their debut album eschews the intimate for the epic - a spot of U2-styled delay on the guitars of Sweet Disposition; the crunching rock of Fader; the huge repeated chorus of Down River - but so would yours if you had Dougy Mandagi singing. Mandagi is going to be hearing a great many comparisons to Jeff Buckley in the coming months, and given a voice like his - capable of effortlessly swooping and climbing around a pure falsetto - it's hard to blame the band for throwing the kitchen sink into the mix.
Tthe Temper Trap are not just another post-AC/DC cheeky lad rocking or fantasy-laden electro band from Australia. They set their sights high—to U2-style delusions of grandeur, in fact. On their debut album, Conditions, Jeff Abbiss, a music producer best known for giving the Arctic Monkeys’ second album its crunch, whips up the kind of “wall of sound” found on U2’s Joshua Tree.
The Temper Trap attracted their first batch of fans with "Sweet Disposition," a pop anthem framed by the influence of Jeff Buckley's falsetto and U2's guitar delay. A similar sound fuels the rest of Conditions, which takes additional cues from the sweeping, atmospheric strains of Coldplay and Bends-era Radiohead. The music itself is partially responsible for such comparisons, but the most obvious link between the Temper Trap and the bands they so avidly adore is singer Dougy Mandagi, an impassioned tenor who coos, croons, and courts melodrama with all the open-armed enthusiasm of a theater student.
The Temper Trap didn't come out of nowhere. But even in an age of instant global communication, Australia is still pretty far away from most of the rest of us. So when this Melbourne rock foursome with stadium-sized ambitions first landed in my inbox last October, it was a modest revelation. Curtis Vodka, Alaska's remixer extraordinaire, was pushing all the right tech-textural buttons on an epic reworking of "Sweet Disposition", a majestic anthem which, if annoyingly derivative, had "mainstream hit" written all over it.