Even the most well oiled machines sometimes need a push-start. In the case of TRAAMS’ second full-length, it’s a cough and a splutter that gets things going, a bassy hum marking their slightly cobwebbed return before the delicate bop of lead single ‘Costner’ takes over. It’s not quite the roaring start that you’d expect from the band’s recent made-in-heaven match-up with UK super-producer MJ of Hookworms, but ‘Modern Dancing’ is a road trip, not a drag race, and it’s all the more satisfying for it.
It’s ‘Succulent Thunder Anthem’ that marks the record’s first real smash-hit, a sweaty thrash that could shake bones with its treacle-thick bassline. “You know there’s ice on the road,” drawls frontman Stu Hopkins through the track’s motorik mid-section, before signing off with an ominous “please don’t slip and break your neck” and a snarl of feedback-laced riffing.
From there on out, that three-way balance of raw fuzz, pop melody and borderline unhinged sentiment becomes embroiled in an almighty tug of war. ‘Sister’ is the greatest indie-disco floorfiller The Cribs never wrote, while its neighbour ‘Silver Lining’ sees Hopkins delve further than ever into his deadpan, smirking drawl.
MJ’s production keeps things chunky in spite of the trio’s stripped back approach, every element sounding carved from granite throughout. There’s a warmth to it all though, with ‘Gimme Gimme Gimme Gimme (Love)’’s childish yelps of “gimme love, I need it” backed by a clattering cacophony so raw it feels like you’re sat in the practise room with the as they hammer out every note.
That tangibility defines ‘Modern Dancing’ – it’s a record bound in frustration and release, exacerbated by the band’s continuing reliance on repetition, and as it comes to roost with the tense ‘Bite Mark’ and its tumbling conclusion TRAAMS’ return shows itself to be one that’s all the better for its slow build. Early birds are overrated anyway.