Release Date: Nov 13, 2015
Record label: Fat Cat
I’m a firm believer that the best guitar bands are the ones who embrace feedback as a tool – a block to be moulded, not an accidental occurrence to be eliminated in the relentless pursuit of perfection. This unwavering politeness has gone on long enough, and the rise of bands like The Twilight Sad, Hookworms, Pulled Apart By Horses and now TRAAMS brings hope to my weary heart. A piercing electronic shriek can conjure emotion in a way that simply isn’t attainable through words alone.
One of the most intriguing things about TRAAMS' music is how it teeters between back-to-basics punk and artier aspirations. Some of Grin's finest moments were its most experimental ones; the Cissa EP took the band's slow-burning and revved-up sides to extremes; and Modern Dancing tips the balance toward straight-up rock. TRAAMS reunited with Hookworms' MJ to produce their second album, and he helps bring these songs into focus, scraping off some of the murky reverb that gave Grin a certain mystique but also dampened its impact.
Even the most well oiled machines sometimes need a push-start. In the case of TRAAMS’ second full-length, it’s a cough and a splutter that gets things going, a bassy hum marking their slightly cobwebbed return before the delicate bop of lead single ‘Costner’ takes over. It’s not quite the roaring start that you’d expect from the band’s recent made-in-heaven match-up with UK super-producer MJ of Hookworms, but ‘Modern Dancing’ is a road trip, not a drag race, and it’s all the more satisfying for it.
Apologies to any Chichester residents who might be reading here – your city is architecturally wonderful and your educational establishments, highly rated – but in terms of alternative music culture, it’s been striking out. Until TRAAMS. It might just be this kind of environment that’s helped to drive TRAAMS forward, though. Is it boredom that helpfully provided the time and motivation to hone their kraut-infused sets into tight, punching, rhythmic affairs? With few local peers, TRAAMS have managed develop their own brand of cadence-clever, punk music and on Modern Dancing, the end product oozes natural style and effortless ability.
A signpost to the sound of the second TRAAMS record might come from its producer – MJ (of Hookworms fame). There’s now a more defined drone, a space between instruments and a repetitive punch that his own band have in spades, but transplanted onto this trio. Although that’s far from the whole story. When TRAAMS switch up the pace, as on the super-slowed-down Car Song or the punchy Gimme Gimme Gimme (Love), they can produce a scrappy, roughly hewn sound, with singer Stuart Hopkins doing little to imply he cares about pretending his voice is anything other than what it is – namely lazy, nasal and appealingly flat.