Release Date: September 16, 2013
Label: Fat Cat Records
Tracks On Repeat
1. Fibbist
2. Demons
3. Head Roll
7/10

TRAAMS debut album Grin: when it’s good, it’s enticing, exciting, fresh and satisfying. When it’s not so good, it’s just plain dull. Using similar distortion techniques that we’re seeing from Jagwar Ma and Beach Day to get that 70s krautrock sound, TRAAMS takes us to a darker side of psychedelia, a screeching rollercoaster that rumbles through swift, chaotic distortion with some surprising twists along the way. However this album is far from perfection as some tracks feel more than a little sluggish.

Hailing from Chichester, this three piece band combines howling vocals with catchy, rumbling riffs. Picking up where the Ladders EP left off Grin continues to lead us in to the unknown. The third track ‘Flowers’ was released along with a trippy video bound to confuse on an early Sunday morning and I can’t help feeling this was their aim as vocalist Stu says, ‘I don’t even know your number and you don’t even know my name.’ We’re being led in to the dark but don’t worry, we’ve got enough experimentalism to last us the night.

‘Swimming Pool’ seeps in like an angry fog, this dark opening welcomes the distorted vocals, like a pilgrim wandering in to the unknown, for what initially seems like a deeply unsettling track it’s soon warmed to a point where the more upbeat Demons kicks in. The distorted voice adds a completely new dimension, easing the album up from grungy riffs making it completely danceable. The rest of the album continues in the same vein. It should be music to be ‘appreciated’ by the hip kids, and yet it’s difficult not to find yourself treading in time to the pounding beats.

By far the best track on the album is ‘Head Roll’. It invokes the spirit of krautrock with its intricate, sulky riffs and there are firm remnants of early 80s post punk in the track’s instrumental but just when you think the band has become lost in nostalgia, Stu kicks in with a defiant ‘So what?’ This track feels like a knowing uncle, a mature seven minutes long in an ocean of under 3 minute chaotic rhythms. The next track ‘Fibbist’ enforces this point perfectly. Throughout the album some lyrics ring (literally) clearer than others; ‘I will forget to try and forget you,’ and, ‘Asphyxiate you while you sleep,’ sound out with a knowing nod. This album definitely knows more than it’s letting on; the title Grin is apt.

Far from perfection low points come in the form of ‘Reds’, it feels formulaic and the spirit which embodies the majority appears to be missing. I’m bored. The track appears to be thoughtless and despite being the shortest track of the album it seems to last an eternity. In similar style the title track ‘Grin’ starts promisingly, yet fails to get off the ground. Towards the end of the album TRAAMS seem to have run out of steam, but perhaps by this point they have delivered what they set out to. The album is well worth a listen just for the experience of those first few tracks, by the end however the novelty seems to have worn off, it’s late and time to go home but it’s been one hell of a night.

‘Klaus’, the final track, finishes the album nicely feeling like a light at the end of the tunnel, the sinister notes of psychedelic guitar still linger and the disconcerting feel of the album is summed up nicely. The distortion comes to an end with three simple notes, like an ellipsis, I have a feeling this is not the end for TRAAMS.

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