Much To Take In
Tripwires have delivered the sonic equivalent of a maximalist novel in their debut LP, Spacehopper. At once heady and low-key, the eleven track album is the type of slow-burn record implicitly made for surreal, starry evenings as distinct its album art. Shimmery synth ushers in the opening bars of eponymous track “Spacehopper” acting as the track’s rather invertebrate backbone. The sighing chords that keep almost every song together tend to either completely hit their mark, as with the driving guitars and synth of “Plastecene,” or threaten to derail the entire operation. The British band begin Spacehopper on a high note, but lose their momentum somewhere around “Love Me Sinister”, a five-minute wallop to the ears, a black hole of a soundscape.
In that regard, Spacehopper is not for the casual listener, content to simply put on an album for a straight listen or as background music. Though median track time clocks in at around four minutes or so, the sheer density of production makes for a soundscape expansive enough to drown listeners if they aren’t careful. Though a bit overdone, a particular standout track is the meandering lullaby “Wisdom Teeth,” which starts on beautifully minimalistic footing until it hits its lovelorn chorus. Though the forced warbles of the second verse push its confines to the brink, the song stands as the closest thing to perfection you may get on this album.
Tripwires have never been shy about their influences and it’s no big surprise that Spacehopper is chock full of musical leanings from band members’ formative years. Hints of Radiohead, Blur, and Oasis all coalesce, making for an interesting mix of electronics and earnestness. Closing track “Slo Mo” touches on each of these for all of five minutes, its jangly guitar intro and forlorn slide offering minimal contrast to the soft sound of frontman Rhys Edwards’ Thom Yorke-esque croons. Spacehopper shows us that it’s not all bad to be a bit derivative, though large-scale influences like that may require more distilling.