With Australia and New Zealand pumping out hit artists like clockwork, where does that leave forerunners once the buzz is over? Australia’s the Temper Trap, one of the more successful “buzzbands” of the past three years, hopes to not be that “that band from that commercial” or “the dudes in that one romantic comedy.” “Sweet Disposition” was- indeed- a breakthrough hit, but is that all they are? Their latest self-titled release attempts to prove that they’re more than a TV advert house band.
The opening track and first single, “Need Your Love,” is a unsuspecting mix of Phil Collins, Journey, and Kings of Leon. Is that exactly a bad thing? Maybe, if they didn’t have such a refreshing debut take on stadium-style indie. No longer is Dougy Mandagi pushing his falsetto to new heights, but now using a Steve Perry-esque approach to fill up the spaces where his voice seemed left out of in the Temper Trap’s first album. On the other hand, maybe powerful anthemic rock is something we need this summer. With the Internet proclaiming chill-wave officially “dead,” it’s time quiet, controlled and skilled musicians come out of their reverb-filled shelters and just have a good time. But this really is just the first track.
“Trembling Hands” and “The Sea is Calling” seem like they’d place well on Conditions. The twinkly guitars and synths seem to carry the moods portrayed well, but one may feel Mandagi’s more pronounced vocals seem to sully the emotions.
The rest of the album tends to spark less interest than expected. Gone is the desperation in the melodies, the drama, and excitement in each song’s transition. We’re given an album produced like a Coldplay record that plays out like, well, a typical sophomore attempt. The ideas on The Temper Trap are somewhat mixed in with tour memories, recognition, and the natural growth of a band with increasing fandom. This sort of thing happens when musicians are no longer messing around in a basement and now have unlimited resources. There’s too much they can do, but not enough people telling them what shouldn’t be done. Of course, this type of growth is better than no growth at all.