Tender Trap

6 Billion People

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    8
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For their first album since 2002's Film Molecules, Tender Trap decided to move away from the use of drum programs and replace them with live drums, calling in Magnetic Fields member Claudia Gonson to add her simple but powerful drumming style to their sound. This seemingly minor choice makes a world of difference on 2006's 6 Billion People. Film Molecules sometimes suffered from being overly cold and mechanical; here the live drums provide some warmth and flexibility. The subtle electronic touches and quirky arrangements remain, but they are grounded in warmth and in really strong songs with sharp hooks, as Amelia Fletcher amazingly manages to show no drop-off in songwriting quality after 20-plus years in the indie pop game. The best songs here, like "6 Billion People," "Ampersand," "Talking Backwards," and the lovely, sad "Dead and Gone," rank alongside her best moments with Tallulah Gosh and Heavenly. Too, Fletcher's voice is as sweet and poignant as ever but somehow richer and more experienced sounding. It fits perfectly with the indie pop, with an adult twist she and her bandmates have come up with on 6 Billion People. It is indie pop for grown-ups that manages to keep all the sweetness but adds some real emotion to go along. Here's to another 20-plus years!

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