Album Review: The Temper Trap – Thick as Thieves


The Temper Trap return with the LP Thick as Thieves, a long- awaited follow up to 2012’s self-titled effort, due June 10th on Glassnote Records. While fans will be pleased to be greeted by familiar riffs, harmonies and anthemic choruses which have carved out The Temper Trap’s style,  Thick as Thieves can be seen as a transitioning point, combining their dreamy psychedelic harmonies with dark rock riffs.

Indeed, the band has experienced a great deal of change in the 4 year gap between albums. Some of those changes include the departure of guitarist Lorenzo Sillitto, who had been with the band since 2006. Perhaps this explains the new chewy, progressive sound enthused through Thick as Thieves.

The eponymous opening track, and first single of the album, explodes with a raw, rocky sound, crunchy guitar chords and a shuffling dance beat. Dougy Mandagi’s voice is reminiscent of Freddy Mercury in the vocal layering, as his vocals smear with fuzz in the verses before giving way to layers of buffed and sheened vocal harmonies.  The chorus kicks into a sing along chant which oozes with an infectious groove and grabs the listener’s attention for the rest of the album.

‘Fall together’, the 2nd released single of the album yanks the album sideways with its powerhouse quality. Mandagi’s piercing vocals echo over a glossy, hypnotic synth which could easily feature in a DJ Shadow track and a circular guitar riff, resulting in a reverberant wash of sliding, forward energy, set to stick with the listener for days. ‘Summer’s almost gone’ features a melancholic melody which infuses the nostalgic lyrics; “summers almost gone and you’re not coming home” with an adolescent longing and brings to mind images of summer remembered through vintage Instagram filters. ‘Tombstone’ follows suit with the theme of youthful yearning, with its rock and roll lead guitar hanging over a rising and repeating rhythm giving way to the angst- ridden lyric, “what if I’m wrong.”

The album closes with ‘Ordinary World’. Mandagi opens the track with sleepy vocals reminiscent of Mike Doughty’s of Soul Coughing’s hazy, tranquil voice. The dark pulsating bass is both enchanting and melodic. However, as the track progresses the sound gets confused, jumping from alternative Radiohead-esque rock, to punk and at points prog rock-y, symphonic guitars which echo the sounds of YES (70s progressive rock band). The result is a somewhat confusing cacophony of sounds which lacks coherence and direction.

All in all Thick as Thieves is a good listen set to feature in many summer road trips (hence the release date). Although the album is somewhat confused in genre at some points, the production is slick and showcases a band who have honed in on their craft.

[Beth Dixon]

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