One man down, The Temper Trap have proved that laying it bare does not mean sacrificing their echoing, climactic signature sound. Thick as Thieves presents as a reflective and visual building of multiple sounds with decipherable attention to detail and precision. In no way a rebuild of their breakthrough album, Conditions rather, an atmospheric and anthemic follow on from their established place within Australian indie pop.
The Temper Trap’s latest release, album Thick as Thieves, presents a bold and determined attempt to break away from long held expectations… but have they succeeded?
Punctuated with adventurous beats, the band’s new album carves definition between their latest work and the legacy preceding them; something difficult to do with such a distinct sound. Somehow, the Temper Trap has returned, refined and articulate, ready for another crack at what is sure to be a long-standing addition to the Aussie rock landscape.
Title track, Thick as Thieves introduces a darker sound than expected, overflowing with bass and grinding guitar, a haunting echo and almost old school western drama flickers back and forth across this one. It’s gripping and deep, breaking the album wide open for what is next to come.
As with any ambitious full length album, there is always going to be a few songs that act as the insulation to the real nuggets of gold however, Thick as Thieves looks to be consistent in originality and diversity. Standout track, Tombstone brings out full, drawling vocal layers and What if I’m Wrong follows with a reverb-drenched nod to dream pop. The album looks to colourful manipulations of vocals and creative pedal effects to steer each track away from the predictable and into a new space for the band, but not without that signature, choral wail.
However, unfortunately for each track, I needed to smack my own wrist for leaning in, anticipating the epic drop of Sweet Disposition. As each feverish lick of vocal powers in, the bones of that monster tune are always there. Depending on how you look at it, this could either solidify The Temper Trap as an iconic band of the era or keep them in a holding pattern; with this legacy following them through every album they produce.
With three bonus tracks, this record is impressive and voluptuous, dipping toes into pools previously untouched and expanding their horizon beyond what they had already mastered. Thick as Thieves presents as a solid addition to an already blockbuster 2016 and, one which should not be too closely compared to anything previously released.
The whole album is soaking in dark romance and reminiscence, So Much Sky, Lost and Riverina, are wistful and delicate but with enough haze around the edges to keep them in line with the enduring noise of The Temper Trap. The underlying thematic scheme is daring and diverse but, somehow balanced and lending to a contemporary tone that compliments their fresh burst back onto the airwaves.
Does The Temper Trap still have it? Yes, they are undoubtedly an incredible collection of artists and, with one man down, they have proved that a stripped back and more articulated sound can still pack a punch. It is perhaps time for us to look beyond Sweet Disposition and into the possibility of The Temper Trap breaking into some exciting new rooms in our minds.