On their debut album, Spacehopper, British indie psych unit Tripwires silently fold a wide array of influences, reference points, and production subtleties into their unassumingly jam-packed textural rock. Over the course of what feels at first like your run-of-the-mill shoegaze revivalist record, the band morphs almost song to song, moving through styles and shifts in mood with an understated flair. The opening titular track creeps in on a fog of atmospheric guitar noise before drifting into an Echoplex-treated wash of shimmering treated vocals and steady Krautrock-informed rhythms that lead to a huge chorus and increasing layers of fuzzy guitar tones piling on until the brief song's end. The flickering production is equal parts Slowdive's dark dreaminess and post-rock experimentalism, and every additional layer pops in its own reserved way. The blown-out drums and angst-tinged vocals of "Plasticine" nod to the happiest parts of the Flaming Lips and the haughty melodrama of Siamese Dream-era Smashing Pumpkins at once. As the record spins on, "Shimmer" references the early rock phases of Radiohead circa OK Computer to an almost alarming degree, going so far as to drop lyrics about claustrophobia and hypochondriacal tendencies. The breakdown to a plodding bassline and lurking beat surrounded by tantrums of guitar feedback is the moment that pushes the '90s alt-rock tendencies of Spacehopper into full focus, sounding so blatantly cribbed from Nevermind it couldn't be anything but completely intentional. Despite the generous borrowing from various influences, Tripwires never come off too derivative, and inventive production helps keep the record sounding fresh. Dual tracks of drum machine and live drums propel the hazy Beatles-in-space slow motion of "Catherine, I Feel Sick." Close to the end, the lengthy jamming of "Tin Foil Skin" recalls the most blissed-out moments of Ride before devolving into various movements of Sonic Youth-styled glowing chaos and then a tightly arranged guitar patchwork. Spacehopper is an incredibly lush marriage of influences that only occasionally cuts too close to the original artifact for comfort. Its spacy, half-dreaming vibes remain close enough to Earth to keep things accessible and not swamped in reverb but still pretty far out by merit of the band's own inventiveness.
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AllMusic Review by Fred Thomas