TRAAMS

Grin

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Building on the sound they set forth on the Ladders EP, TRAAMS' first full-length, Grin, delivers a hypnotic mix of indie, punk, and Krautrock that encompasses influences like Wire and Television as well as contemporaries like Parquet Courts and Beak>. There's an almost elemental feel to the trio's songs, and at their best, they're artfully simple. On "Swimming Pool," the bludgeoning rhythm section hits home the band's post-punk influences while Stuart Hopkins' voice embodies the music's extremes in his muffled monotone and wild yelps. The tension between TRAAMS' explosive and droning sides makes Grin intriguing, especially when the band juxtaposes brief, shouty vignettes such as the scrappy "Fibbist" and "Flowers" -- where Hopkins wails "I don't even know your number/And you don't even know my name" with the desperation of a thousand craigslist Missed Connections -- with lankier tracks like the aptly named "Loose" and "Klaus," which brings all the elements of TRAAMS' music together in a dense seven-minute groove. However, there's a fine line between brilliant and boring when it comes to simple, driving songs like these. At times the band gets a little too basic, as on the grungy "Demons," and at others, they meander; "Head Roll"'s punchy momentum is squandered on an unnecessarily lengthy coda. Still, TRAAMS show a lot of promise, especially when they get weird. They add a funky angle to "Reds" that elevates it beyond a mere outburst, while "Sleep" has an unhinged intensity that they'd do well to investigate further. Even if TRAAMS aren't quite firing on all cylinders on Grin, the album shows they've got the potential to expand on any of the directions they introduce here.

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