Three years since the release of their critically acclaimed debut album 'Conditions', The Temper Trap are back with their self-titled follow up. Known for the feel good ‘Sweet Disposition’, this outing hears the Aussie collective offer something more refined - but far less punchy.
At first glance it would appear that the band have concentrated more on their lyrical content this time around, with the London riots inspired ‘London’s Burning’ a fine example of this. Taking a delicate look in to the current state of the UK’s economy, the use of radio and TV news sound bytes add power to the already impactful track. Almost instrumentally mirroring The Clash’s ‘London’s Calling‘, as opposed to their song also titled ‘London’s Burning’, the politically driven track - “There’s a rumor London’s burning from within,” is a catchy educational offering with more than its fair share of purposeful drumming and forceful guitar execution.
The main difference between this album and the band’s previous is actually all to do with lead singer Doug Mandagi’s word delivery. Gone have the effeminate beautiful barrier breaking vocals and instead lower toned arrangements stand apparent throughout the 12 track project. Upon first listen you’ll be wondering if it is actually Mandagi singing, but once ‘Miracle’ plays there’ll be absolutely no question that he’s the man on the microphone. Easily the album’s finest moment, the electronically detailed and softly stepped record is an atmospheric gem. With vocals finely tuning your love strings and an underlining keyboard accompaniment that helps you drift off to a thought-provoking place, this could well be the follow up smash the band need.
Steady recordings that play it safe with a stereotypically indie sound include ‘This Isn’t Happiness’ and ‘Trembling Hands’, whereas ‘Leaving The Heartbreak Hotel’ pushes the boundaries of explorative passion. A slow start masks itself as the beginning of something epic. The divine piano keying and precise guitar strums give off an air of self belief. Not only does it leave you wanting to hit rewind the second it ends, it also leaves you asking the question, “Is this the best album closer of the past few years?”
Single ‘Rabbit Hole’ is a brilliant track that offers some beautifully written lyrics but serves a better purpose as an album cut than full blown single, especially when you have ‘Need Your Love’ and of course ‘Miracle’ up your sleeve. While the likes of ‘The Sea Is Calling’ and ‘Never Again’ offer themselves as good album fillers, they are far from fantastic which is a level we have come to expect from a band like The Temper Trap.
With all that said and done, The Temper Trap is a solid second official release. There are bands who struggle to enter the creative process with a clear head and professional outlook, The Temper Trap are not one of them. These guys will continue to make great music for years to come, even if they do drop a few average cuts we’ll forgive them as their finest work exceeds all expectations.