Careful: this is not your father’s The Temper Trap. It isn’t your older brother’s. It isn’t The Temper Trap that belongs to that cute girl at the coffee shop with a pierced septum. It isn’t even your former Prime Minister’s.
The gang from Australia is back and they have changed their tune with their self-titled follow-up. While they received acclaim and platinum album status for their breakout debut in their native land, their reception elsewhere (including this reviewer) was a little more tepid for Conditions. The band seems to have their sights on international fame, as they have scrapped their light and shimmering sound and spent some time lifting weights in the gym of rock ‘n’ roll.
Dougy Mandagy’s soulful timbre has a harder edge to it as he belts out lyrics, so much so I had to check the band’s bio page to make sure they hadn’t held auditions for a new front man that I had missed. Turns out he is still there, has a producer who moved his vocals to the forefront of the mix, and sings with much more conviction this time around that he makes me think he actually needs my love.
As well as the vocal makeover, the rest of the band members make strong choices with their sound and play their instruments with authority, and better production value makes everything feel crisper. The light lilt inherent in most of their debut has been replaced by solid pop songs like “The Rabbit Hole,” “Need Your Love,” “Where Do We Go From Here,” and “Dreams,” complete with infectious beats and synthesizer interludes. Their music also journeys into 70s style narrative ballads like “The Sea Is Calling,” and their first crowd anthem, complete with funky choppiness and group backup vocals announcing the title of the track, “London’s Burning.” And “Trembling Hands” sounds like it was written for the pivotal moment in a summer romantic comedy. A well-written one.
While there are still some gentle tracks on their second release, there is no doubt the Temper Trap have reinvented their sound. Their firm stance and choices have resulted in the construction of a solid pop album, one that is so much more memorable than their first release. The foundation has been laid for international fame. The album will be available everywhere June 5th. All that is left is for you to listen.
Need Your Love by The Temper Trap