Album Review: The Temper Trap – Thick as Thieves2 min read
Ever since the band debuted with their breakout hit Sweet Disposition, The Temper Trap has felt like a band in search of an identity. Their first album, Conditions has some catchy tunes, but felt scattered and overly derivative, and their self-titled follow-up – in spite of containing a few strong songs like Trembling Hands – was generally considered sluggish and over-produced. The band’s lead guitarist has since left the group, and The Temper Trap find themselves at something of a crossroads with their new album. Sold as a “back to basics” album, Thick as Thieves is evidently supposed to step away from the backlash the band received for their second album, and whilst it has improved a lot from that album, the band still has a series of core problems that don’t seem to be going away anytime soon.
The most notable of these issues is just how indebted The Temper Trap is to Joshua Tree-era U2. Many of the tracks on Thick as Thieves could easily place on that album with nary a change necessary. The opening title track could easily fool one into believing that the album is going to be a change into a grittier, more analogue sound as the band suggested in their pre-release material, but So Much Sky quickly quashes such ideas. With a “soaring” chorus of “whoa-eh-oh” shouted over chiming guitars and steady drums, the resemblance to the Irish quartet is uncanny. Burn is very similar, with the same “whoa” refrain in the chorus, the same drums, and the same repetitive guitar line. Lost changes things up slightly, in the sense that the “whoa” is replaced by a falsetto performance of “let’s get lost”, both the instrumental in largely interchangeable with the previous tracks.
The rest of the album continues in largely the same way. Some tracks with particularly infectious choruses make the formula work (Alive and Fall Together are both strong), but overall the album suffers for its derivative nature. If the band were to expand on the sounds of their inspirations, they may be able to create something interesting, and they obviously have a skill for writing catchy melodies, but as it currently stands, The Temper Trap fail to move past their influences.