Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Temper Trap - "Conditions"

I am a self-confessed "anthemic" rock junky. I won't lie. When I hear songs by U2 or Coldplay I can't help myself. Soaring vocals...incredible melodies...huge guitars with delay..and drums that push the songs a long with a religious fervor. I am of the opinion that these songs are meant to be heard in arenas in front of thousands of people, singing in unison. Since I am on the constant prowl for anything that would fit that description...and since I've already begun waxing un-poetic...I bring myself to the best thing that has come out of Australia since Midnight Oil (and maybe Kylie Minogue): The Temper Trap...anthemic rock for 2011.

"Conditions" is easily one of the best rock records to come out as of late. There are three reasons why I make that proclamation...amazing vocals, excellent atmospherics, and great choruses. Singer Dougy Mandagi croons with a passion that harkens me back to the days of Jeff Buckley. Not in a derivative "i'm ripping off Buckley" sort of way (read: his vocals don't sound like the guy from Ours), but his vocals soar over the music, and they convey a passion that is sorely missing from most "modern rock" these days. It's just the right mix of melodrama, theatrics, and "bono", that turns these songs into more than just a boring rehash of the U2 playbook. I see this record as being a classic A-side/B-side. The first half of the album is driving, with huge choruses and loads of energy. I don't know if this was a conscious effort on their part to front-load the album with anthems...because the first 5 songs are epic in stature. They do more with 3 minutes ("Fader") in terms of writing an anthem than most bands could muster in an entire career...but they also know how to write quieter songs that have just as much passion and energy as the loud ones. The second half of "Conditions" is a little more restrained, with some slower songs ("Soldier On", "Fools") that showcase groove and dynamics over bombast. Writing songs this good is hardly an easy task...and getting people to listen to them, with attention spans being what they are today, is even harder. With "Conditions" The Temper Trap has hit their stride as a songwriting unit, and has truly put out a rock record of epic that delivers hook after hook without being contrived. One that takes you on a journey through 10 tracks that are sure to improve your already sorry record collection...

Buy this record...thank me later.

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