With the breakout success of their 2009 debut album, Conditions, Australia's the Temper Trap immediately found themselves somewhat rigidly classified. Whether attributing the Temper Trap's guitar-driven, anthemic vibe to the "post-U2" phenomenon of Coldplay, or using their harmonic arrangements and clickity-clack percussion to lump them in with Fleet Foxes and Local Natives, listeners seemed to think they had this band pegged. But those judgments sold the Temper Trap short, and that's even truer for their eponymous sophomore album. Sure, the Temper Trap have built many of their songs around guitarist Lorenzo Sillitto's delayed electric guitar lines -- which certainly took inspiration from the Edge's signature sound. However, that said, what the Temper Trap always have that sets them apart from their contemporaries is vocalist Dougy Mandagi's soaring, angelic vocal croon. A one-of-a-kind singer, Mandagi sometimes brings to a mind the high-pitched soulfulness of Erasure's Andy Bell, albeit with a stronger, more muscular and punk-oriented aesthetic. It is just this sound that drives this latest effort. A sophisticated, epic, slow burn of an album, The Temper Trap finds the band taking the creative long view, and updating its bombastic guitar rock with a moody, somewhat synth-oriented sound. These are nuanced, atmospheric cuts that sometimes, as with the epic and passionate "Miracle," don't kick into the pop/rock hook until around the three-minute mark. That might make it sound as though there's something less catchy about these tracks, but make no mistake, each song makes that wait well worth it, with a meticulous arrangement that pays off at exactly the right moment. If you take the time to listen all the way through, the results are even more infectious and rapturous than anything on Conditions -- sometimes even more so after repeated listens. While The Temper Trap certainly retains a portion of that post-U2 delay-pedal vibe with producer Tony Hoffer (Beck, Air, Goldfrapp), the songs here are more often filled out with densely sonic keyboards and rippling synth lines. The results, as on the pointedly topical dance-punk cut "London's Burning" (which juxtaposes melodies with news-clip soundbites taken during the 2011 London riots), are layered and mature. Elsewhere, such tunes as the bright, electronic dance-inflected "Where Do We Go from Here," the dark and sexy number "Never Again," the cinematic ballad "I'm Gonna Wait," and the yearning "Dreams" are euphoric pop anthems that bury themselves as deeply in your soul as they do in your ears.
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AllMusic Review by Matt Collar