words Shawn Moodie
It’s been four years since The Temper Trap released their self-titled sophomore album, and fans could be forgiven for feeling a little impatient (sure, it’s not a Chinese Democracy wait, but still…). During that time the Melbourne four-piece had been relentlessly touring and working on their album, and even changing guitarist (with Kiwi multi-instrumentalist Joseph Greer replacing Lorenzo Sillitto during the recording of the album).
After suffering an arguably heavy-dose of ‘second album syndrome’, The Temper Trap went back to basics in an attempt to re-connect with what made audiences love them in the first place and after almost three years of recording, they’ve released Thick As Thieves.
The album, which is produced by Rich Cooper (Mystery Jets), saw the boys call in a veritable a gaggle of outside songwriters (Malay (Frank Ocean), Justin Parker (Lana Del Rey), and even Weezer front man Rivers Coumo), in an attempt to re-tool their sound.
So was it worth the wait? The album finds The Temper Trap in a defiant mood, presenting us with a bold and re-energized sound that goes some way to recapturing the magic of their smash-hit debut Conditions without simply retread it.
Gone are the moody, down-tempo tracks of their previous outing. As are the synths that became somewhat of a calling card for the band. Instead we’re presented with a more upbeat sound. It’s a leaner, stripped-back, and guitar-heavy album that plays to their obvious stadium ambitions. The album also sees the welcome return of Dougy Mandagi’s warm falsetto, something that was missing from their last outing.
Their eponymous album-opener build from a chugging blues-stomper into a rousing, power-chord heavy chorus that will delight fans of the band, while ‘So Much Sky’ sees Bassist Jonathon Aherne steal the show, with his driving bassline.
Album-single, Fall Together, sounds like a guaranteed hit. It’s a track that pairs dance-orientated arpeggios from Mandagi with crisp, radio-friendly, production.
Burn is another track that seems to have been produced with an eye on creating a stadium anthem. There’s the obligatory U2-style guitar riffs, driving rhythm section, and infectiously hook-laden chorus. There’s even a guitar-solo chucked in there for good measure.
As with contemporaries Coldplay and Kings of Leon, much of Thick of Thieves harks back to U2’s arena-ready sound. And these songs with their rattling bass, crisp drumming, and newly installed satisfying grit, do help to chart a middle-ground between the tense, guitar-heavy sound of Conditions and the lush atmosphere’s of their sophomore album.
This is by no means a perfect album. The band are playing it a bit safe this time out and each song follows a similar, somewhat repetitive, pattern in their construction. The effect of this is that there aren’t many tracks that stick out in a full playing of the album.
This is a perfectly understandable reaction to their last album which saw the band take some risks which, by-in-large didn’t pay off.
This is an enjoyable album which sees the boys moving in the right direction. The songs are catchy and likeable enough, but Thick As Thieves falls short of being the outstanding album that The Temper Trap are more than capable of producing. A solid outing, but no more.