Upon first hearing Trailer Trash Tracys, one thing is immediately clear: here are a band that love the 1980s. Although their sophomore effort ‘Althaea’ is one that doesn’t give up its secrets readily and requires a degree of effort to really understand, the group’s appreciation of that most divisive of musical decades is overt from the get-go. It may seem somewhat churlish to focus on the era of the band’s influence, but it’s a factor that has an enormous impact on the resultant album. ‘Althaea’ is an album crafted with a meticulous and unerring ear for the intricacies of ’80s alternative music – to the point where it would be easy to forgive those unfamiliar with the band for mistaking the album to be a genuine product of the era of circa 1987.
While that’s commendable in some ways and it’s certainly impressive just how authentically the band have recreated the soundcapes of the era, ‘Althaea’ does, by nature of it’s authenticity, fall prey to the same pitfalls that affected some records of that time. By and large, though, it’s a charming set of songs – the dissonant, wonky synths and tribal rhythms of ‘Siebenk’ is melodic post-punk through-and-through; the off-kilter rhythms of ‘Gong Gardens’ likewise suggesting the cream of the early ’80s alt-crop, Siouxsie And The Banshees and The Slits particularly coming to mind.
‘Althaea’ is rife with sonic touches which elevate it from being mere tribute, instead feeling more like a genuine product of the era that just happened to be made thirty years too late. The nimble, undulating fretless bass of ‘Betty’s Cavatina’ is unmistakable Talk Talk, whilst the frantically tinkling synths and abrasively urgent rhythms of ‘Kalesa’ suggest some of the more frenzied cuts from Kate Bush’s ‘The Dreaming’. Trailer Trash Tracys are a band with a real talent for replicating the sounds of a long gone era in music, but their unwavering dedication to the style is something of a double edged sword.
The musical mood and palette takes little of modern music in. While it’s certainly a refreshing change of pace to see a recent act with such abandon of contemporary conventions, ‘Althaea’ is an album that, because of it’s relentless adherence to retro principals, doesn’t quite make use of the potential stylistic variety that the band have open to them. Although the songs themselves are generally varied enough, the glowing synth pads, bubbling bass and tom-heavy drum work do lead to a rather overly consistent sound. Trailer Trash Tracys would perhaps have been better advised to take their ’80s influenced sound and inflect it with the tonal variety of a few other eras of music, as the overall results are a little too uniform to quite make the most of the album’s potential impact.
Nevertheless, ‘Althaea’ is a commendable effort and one that not only creates a very convincing throwback but also some genuinely very good songs. Those fascinated by modern post punk may well look to Trailer Trash Tracys as the group to bridge the gap between the often harsher impact of contemporary alt rock and the first wave post punk and alternative groups that the band nod at so well.
The albums full track-listing is as follows..
Money For Moondogs
100 Aspects Of The Moon