Perhaps best known for his trademark T-Rex costume at live gigs, Totally Extinct Enormous Dinosaurs – or TEED for short, as it’s a bit of a mouthful – has been fighting off comparisons to Hot Chip ever since his debut EP was released on Joe Goddard’s label. Now ‘Trouble’ could be the record to push him into an arena all his own.
As demonstrated by the costume, TEED has always done things entirely his own way and ‘Trouble’ shows that no intention of departing from that. With lyrics that seem more like they’d belong to a passive aggressive indie band – ‘I’m always searching, looking under my bed, even though you said goodbye,’ TEED admits wryly on ‘You Need Me On My Own’ – there’s a dark edge of self-loathing pervading the album that at first seems at odds with dance-pop.
But that’s the kicker; TEED manages to mix those thoughts with the electronic beats in such a way that it all seems to come together and make perfect sense. The album manages to avoid being a downer, helped in part by the more uplifting tracks – closing track ‘Stronger’ in particular ends on a high. Melodic and upbeat, it lifts house music up in a way that really isn’t heard often enough. ‘Solo’ initially sounds like solace in loneliness, until TEED’s vocals; ‘We can make this right again,’ he says, darkly threatening in all the right ways. And ‘Garden’ provides a lovely sweeping vista of electronica, steady paced and sure of itself.
‘Trouble’ is an album of contrasts, and this can sometimes be to its detriment. ‘Panpipes’, full of tribal minimalism, doesn’t always work and seems a little out of place, as if TEED just couldn’t quite bring himself to leave it out.
As evidenced by the track names, ‘Trouble’ mixes the mundane with the exotic. ‘Household Goods’ and ‘Tapes & Money’ sit alongside ‘Shimmer’ and ‘Panpipes.’ Overall, ‘Trouble’ is weird. Definitely. But in a good way.