“Conditions” – ‘The Temper Trap’ [Joint Review]
Well, I lied when I said I wasn’t going to review – that wasn’t The Enantiomorphic God, it was the enantiomorph mimicking my behaviour – so there, beat that one! I couldn’t resist, though. I managed to scrape through this week-end alive, just enough. The homework’s been a total bitch, but I’ve got most of it under the belt, so to speak.
No, it’s not emotional-eating…
In some ways, I’ll have to agree with my counterpart on this one. I think we were sorely disappointed with “Conditions” for the simple reason: we demanded EPIC.
“What constitutes epic?”
I think that’s a question we’ve all been asking ourselves for many years. I mean, when we listen to a single like “Sweet Disposition” we’re drooling on the sidelines, begging for more. We expect satisfaction, disappointment being the only exception. And it’s not that I don’t like “Conditions”, it’s got flaws like any other album when you look at it in fine-detail. In some respects, I don’t think there’s an album out there that’s universally loved by all. We’re all unique, we’re all individual, and we’ve all got different likes and dislikes when it comes to music. Otherwise we’d just have one genre… one horrible, unsophisticated genre…
… Probably pop…
… But that’s besides the point. ‘The Temper Trap’ have all the workings of a good-band, and this debut of theirs, “Conditions”, has got the potential to become O-so-much-more! Potential is what makes the world go round, peoples, and it’s this same potential that defines a band, that makes a band, and that’s the stuff of legends. ‘Queen’ had it, ‘ACDC’ have it, it’s as easy to manipulate as the force, guys…
[lifts computer with mind]
And not that any of this should dissuade any of you from going out and listening, or even buying, “Conditions”, because, compared to some of the EP’s and debut’s I’ve listened to over the past six-months, “Conditions” has got some real uppers; conversely, just as many downers. I mean, you can see the potential in “Sweet Disposition” itself, “Science Of Fear” and “Love Lost”. They’re catchy, upbeat, the riffs are working, the vocals are brilliant. And although I think the lyrics leave a lot to be desired, they’re clean, they’re audible.
It’s a rare album for the simple sake, it grows on you. I’ve probably played it about ten-fifteen-times by now, and I just about understand the meaning of the universe. Well, not literally, just metaphorically – I understand the universe of “Conditions”, I understand the complexity of their greatest tracks, and the downfalls of the rest. Each and every song has its place, although at first glance, they seemed ill-performed. Michael Hodder said that genre-wise these guys weren’t breaking much of a boundary, and that’s about it – but if a band can pull of a decent pop-rock sound, they’re sure to make it big…
“Conditions” opens with “Love Lost” – the elec. organ/keyboard, the synth clap. It all brings you in, it’s all meant to start off soft. The pace is moderate, with the lyrics “A love was lost… but now we’ve found it…” It’s got the elements of “Sweet Disposition” in the music, it’s really easy to tell which tracks, by now, have ‘TTT’ written all over it. Sudden crescendos bring waves of high, while intimate vocals bring you in close, one-on-one. It’s the typical-track-template, I’m sad to say, that brings us “Love Lost”:
quiet + lyrics + sudden crescendo + loud finish = song 1
It works nearly 99.9% of the time, hence ‘Britney Spears’– that, and if you sleep with enough people, you can acheive anything!
“Rest” follows “Love Lost”, and I think it’s a weak following: “…. ooooooohoohhhhhh baby….” isn’t a great introduction to the track. The loud-aspect comes back in, and I think ‘TTT’ over-do it a bit here. We get the picture, you guys are fantastic, don’t flaunt it too much or you’ll pull a muscle. It’s not my particular favourite, I don’t quite know why, but it just doesn’t click with me…
….. Oh…. “Sweeeeeeeeeet….. Dissssss….. po…. siition…..”
The riff, I can’t get enough of it. The voice, the lyrics. It all works. It’s what drew me to ‘TTT’in the first place, it’s that potential kicking in. Nothing’s overdone – there’s elegantly-simple-layers at work here. It’s got the click, it’s got the mojo, it’s got the force!
But, ‘TTT’ do it again – such powerful-mojo just doesn’t contrast well with tracks like “Down River”. It’s like listening to something ‘Jarvis Cocker’ concocted in a bath-tub. By now, if you think I like ‘Cocker’, you’re sorely mistaken. Simplistically, poorly-written lyrics plus an awful tune in the background just doesn’t work for me:
“…. Gooo… don’t stop…. Gooo… don’t stop…. Gooo…. don’t stop….”
‘TTT’ do it, and it’s a real off-put for the album’s entirety.
It happens throughout the album… one good, one bad – a song that works so marvellously, a song that works so poorly. “Soldier On” follows “Down River”, and it would have to be my favourite for the entire album. “Sweet Disposition” had me in awe, but “Soldier On”, I think, is ‘The Killers’ equivalent to the much neglected track “Goodnight, Travel Well”. Not so much because they sound similar, but because they have this really long intimacy between listener and singer, and then this explosion of sound.
Just the opposite, “Fader” brings back the elements of “Love Lost’s” keyboard/ elec. organ. Out come the “oooooohhhhs….” which ‘TTT’ are going to make famous. “Fools” isn’t much of a great track, so I’ll skip ahead to another favourite of mine:
“Resurrection” has this classic guitar-scratch in the background, that grows, that builds and builds and builds. It creates suspense. The vocals here work in tandem with the sounds, and the guitar that twangs in the distance is all about creating the upcoming crescendo. Then the “…. ohhhhhhh…. ohhhhhh.. ohhhhhhh’s….” come in, and set the scene. The elec. beat comes in, the scratch becomes unbearable, and it starts all over…. at the 3:26 mark, it explodes. The elec. guitat, the percussion, the bass, just flows on marvellously, and ends with the same haunting scratch/now-blip sound.
“Science Of Fear” is another great track. I’ve droned on about too many of them already, but this is an important one. It should have been first. It’s got the spark that “Conditions” needs to entice it’s listeners inwards. It’s got the simplistic layers, the lyrics, the elec. guitar and the percussion, and it shows all the capabilities of ‘TTT’ that should have been outlined from the beginning. Just as well, it could have worked in last position instead. In it’s place is the completely unnecessary “Drum Song”, an instrumental – it takes away the only thing ‘TTT‘ have that makes their music work; vocals. It’s a filler-track, and I’m disappointed with the ending.
Overall, the album, as I said, is like a bunch of uppers and downers. It’ll take you to the top, it’ll ride you to the bottom. You can replay it over and over, and there’ll still be those pitfalls no matter what. But if you’re willing to overlook these somewhat minor faults, and look a little on the bright-side, you’ll find that “Conditions” has some mainstream-making material, and heaps of potential to become a successful band in the not too distant future. With a little more time and some diligant effort, ‘The Temper Trap’ will have a follow-up twice as brilliant as this. A modest 3.8/5, it’s the potential I love, and considering some of the other ‘average’ bands out there at the moment, “Conditions” is a walk in the park.
The Enantiomorphic God