It's been some time since we've heard from Australian alt band The Temper Trap, after the massive success of their debut album Conditions
and the ever-so-catchy single, "Sweet Disposition." The now quintet is peddling a fuller sound with their self-titled sophomore album. While the band was surely looking to show artistic growth, many might view the change as being too drastic. The sweet falsetto of Dougy Mandagi is still there, although it's hidden under a lower register and fuller instrumental melodies. With the goal of not producing the same album twice, The Temper Trap strived to change their sound, and change they did.
With songs like the first single, "Need Your Love," the listener is instantly engrossed in their new sound. With a snyth-heavy melody and tribally snycopated drums, "Love" is the power anthem at its finest. Mandagi's vocals carry the track, utilizing the endearing quality of his voice. He manages to pefectly blend vocal strength with emotional longing, making the song universally relatable. The strength of the track is undeniable, making it the perfect song to roll up your car windows and belt into your steering wheel. Ascending keyboards motifs litter the harmonies, creating a very unique and enjoyable ensemble sound. But what really makes this track so great is its ability to emphasize a seamless growth.
Unfortunately, this balance is not sustained. While the sound is undeniably new on "Need Your Love," it's not too forced -- unlike some other tracks on the album. Tracks like "Trembling Hands," "This Isn't Happiness," and "Never Again" show a promising compromise between the two album's sounds, but at times, lack vision. Many tracks seem unanchored, suggesting an aimless attempt to become something new.
While the artistic growth is admirable, it seemed rushed, with no final product in mind. The marjority of the album offers enjoyable tracks but audiences be warned -- it does not sound at all like their first. The world of music will always be accepting of bands as they attempt to recreate their sound, especially ones with former massive success. The Temper Trap got lucky with this one -- the album has just enough promise to receive general positive feedback, but just barely.
For that old school 'Trap flavor, be sure to check out our Guest Apartment session with the band.