Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Tender Trap - Ten Songs About Girls

Tender Trap namedrop Edywn Collins, songs about girls and My BloodyValentine on second track MBV. It's a straightforward concept of indie pop and its influences / predecessors. Tender Trap are not your usual indie pop/twee pop band. They're comprised of previous indie pop band members for a start. They're no Orange Juice or Belle & Sebastian, but they have their own thing. This 'thing' isn't the most respectable aspect of their music. This idea of being 'indie' is beyond me. The members of Tender Trap are over 40 years old, but they don't care about age... Ten Songs About Girls is another beautifully arranged indie pop album for a modern audience. 

Two years have passed since 'Dansette Dansette' was released; nothing out of the usual has happened to Tender Trap since that release. The question on the tip of my tongue is 'what is the point?' It's something that needs an answer. 'MBV' doesn’t answer this, but it clearly tells the listener what they are, what they like and what they've always been about. 'Train FromKing's Cross Station' has lovely lyrical moments. For instance, "I left you behind, but you are always on my mind" / "Finding these lost young hearts to someone new. But now I cry, what can I do?" The guitar work is arguably the best on the album. Harmonies are present, supporting vocals and loud effective bass. 

Ten Songs About Girls opens with a handful of exciting tracks; as expected. 'Could This Be The Last Time?' can be defined by its extraordinary chorus, "Could this be the last time you tease me? Could this be the last time with you? As your days above disappear. Could this be the last time of my life ‘round here with you?" The melody is spot on, the progressions are spot on and the lyrics draw everything in to focus smoothly. 'Leaving Christmas Day' is an achy breaky love song which would be ideal for a break up around Christmas. The lyrics are not spectacular, but they provoke reactions. It's not just the progressions, the melodies or the outstanding backing vocals. It's the imagery Tender Trap put across that captures the listener, well it certainly captures me.

In 'Step One', Tender Trap lay down some 'rules', if you'd like to call it that. Rules on how to become a successful indie band with little care in the world for talent. Lyrics such as "Find like-minded girls" / "Write a great chorus, never mind the verse" / "Buy a pink guitar." Tender Trap are should surely be charging for this winning combination of steps. Jokes aside, I think this is a brilliant track with a great working class ethic at its heart. Mocking the scene they're in only justifies why they still release music to today.

The first half of Ten Songs About Girls is definitely better than the second half. The back album tracks cannot compare to those first few fury tracks of twee pop greatness. Tracks such as 'Memorabilia' and 'May Day' don't cut it for me. The basic structures, lack of instrumentation and predictable progressions do enough to put me off. They’re neither exciting nor emotionally provoking, when that should be their intended purpose. 'Ode' has faster guitar work, louder guitar work and an eruptive bass riff. Ode has timed breaks in the instrumentation and support vocals that improve the tracks overall sound. The punk-esque structure mixes with the twee theme, but that’s not a bad thing.

'Broken Doll' starts with more punk-like noises and an almost Shonen Knife carbon copy of structure. The hand clapping, female vocals and guitar chords have energy and passion within them. It's not the strongest track on the album, but it's certainly the most energetic Tender Trap track I’ve heard. 'Love IsHard Enough' is more down to earth and melancholy than the previous few tracks. I like the vocal harmonies; however I don't like the instrumentation around the chorus. That's because it sounds cluttered and almost in your face.

On Ten Songs About Girls, Tender Trap utilize their age and experience to continue releasing music. It's not a unique album, but it is a Tender Trap album and we can't take that away from them. What was the point of this album then? Was it to keep listeners informed that Tender Trap are still alive and kicking, or was it something extra to refer to when performing live at the many indie festivals on the summer circuit. I think it's a little from column A and a little from column B. It's not significant enough to hit the high marks. Its release was quiet and almost transparent in the blog community, which is surprising given their stature as a twee pop band. 



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