Tender Trap

Dansette Dansette

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In the four years since the release of their previous album, Tender Trap made a couple changes to their lineup, adding drummer Katrina Dixon and guitarist Elizabeth Morris. These additions made a world of difference to the group’s sound, and helped 2010’s Dansette Dansette be their best album to date. Dixon’s cymbal-free drumming style gives the band a powerful rhythmic thump, but more importantly, the vocals the two provide mesh with lead vocalist Amelia Fletcher’s absolutely perfectly. It’s a nod to Fletcher’s previous bands Talulah Gosh and Heavenly, and it gives the songs an added sheen of loveliness. None of this is meant to imply that Tender Trap albums have been lacking in any way, they have been uniformly good; filled with hooky, peppy songs played with verve and sung with graceful soul by Fletcher. It’s just that Dansette is wall-to-wall hits, with no filler at all. Each song could easily be extracted and dropped into a playlist of indie pop and would instantly become a highlight. The Lesley Gore/Sandie Shaw-namechecking title track, the thundering rocker "Fireworks," the kitschy "Girls with Guns," the melancholy "Counting the Hours," or the sweet-as-punch "Grand National" are all among the best songs Fletcher has written in her decades-long career, which considering her track record, is really saying something. The band sounds energized by the chance to play these great melodies, and they dive into each tune with restrained abandon that belies their image as a twee pop band. Despite the tenderness of the vocals and the wry sensitivity of most of the songs ("Girls with Guns" being a huge exception), there is an underlying toughness to Tender Trap's sound; there’s plenty of punk in their pop, in other words. In fact, Dansette Dansette is a near-perfect blend of punk energy and indie pop charm, a winning mixture of spiky guitars and girl group harmonies. Even if you, for some inexplicable reason, aren’t a fan of everything Amelia Fletcher does, you should check this record out if that equation sounds good.

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