Release Date: Jun 18, 2013
Record label: Frenchkiss Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Electronic, Dream Pop, Experimental Rock, Shoegaze
Tripwires name Neil Young, Yo La Tengo, and Talk Talk as influences. Listening to Spacehopper, the debut album from the quartet out of Reading, England, those are not necessarily the first names that come to mind. The album was recorded in Brooklyn but couldn’t sound farther from it. Tripwires are a shoegaze band whose sound has also been filtered through the more arty strains of 1990s indie rock and Britpop.
On their debut album, Spacehopper, British indie psych unit Tripwires silently fold a wide array of influences, reference points, and production subtleties into their unassumingly jam-packed textural rock. Over the course of what feels at first like your run-of-the-mill shoegaze revivalist record, the band morphs almost song to song, moving through styles and shifts in mood with an understated flair. The opening titular track creeps in on a fog of atmospheric guitar noise before drifting into an Echoplex-treated wash of shimmering treated vocals and steady Krautrock-informed rhythms that lead to a huge chorus and increasing layers of fuzzy guitar tones piling on until the brief song's end.
Tripwires, from Reading, Berkshire, follow in the early ’90s jangling shoegaze footsteps of former pioneering bands from the Thames Valley area – Chapterhouse, Slowdive, Ride – and frontman Rhys Edwards shares the nasal vocal style of one Neil Halstead. But make no mistake, Tripwires are no tribute act. ‘Plasticine’ adds a Strokes ‘12:51’-style guitar solo and a slamming near-grunge breakdown to the aesthetic, and even when they do start to teeter dangerously close to pastiche with ‘Shimmer’, it’s a good lesson in wailing riffs and melodic vocals.
While the Reading, UK quartet started out by covering Slipknot tunes on their school lunch breaks, Tripwires have changed quite a bit in the years since. They’ve dropped the nu-metal influences in favor of the likes of My Bloody Valentine and Radiohead, daubing their indie rock jams with shoegaze flourishes. Many delve into the pedal-heavy expanses that can come along with an appreciation for MBV, but Tripwires show more pop hooks than fuzzy depth on their debut LP, Spacehopper.
Though it’s definitely poorer for the lack of the sublime ‘Positive Thinking’, the long-awaited, once shelved, thrice delayed debut by Reading’s Tripwires is finally here. Ones-to-watch since the emergence of the ‘Shimmer’ demo a couple of years back, a patchy time with labels has repeatedly delayed this first offering. Sure, the heyday of the shoegaze mini-revival may have been and gone but when you’re the cream of the crop, able to casually drop squalling album tracks like ‘Plasticine’ rather than some also-ran Fender Jaguar owning shufflers you can afford to take a bit of time over your work.