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Album Review: TRAAMS – Grin

3 min read

TRAAMS has the recipe down; tossing a peppy groove into a pot with a handful of potent hooks seems to be as second nature to them as adding milk to cereal is for the rest of us. But the members of the band aren’t content just singing/strumming/tapping their parts; in their debut album Grin, they spit the music at you with an energy that’s intoxicating and relentless. Whilst in some places in the record it may seem that sound quality has given way to attitude, particularly in terms of being able to understand the lyrics, it is this raw aggression that makes me wish that TRAAMS were working in my locality, so I could go and see them play.

TrammsGrinThe relatively subdued album-opener Swimming Pool allows listeners to dip a toe before being pushed into the deep end of TRAAMS’ sound. The vocals are rather restrained and sit quite far back in the mix for this tune, which perhaps boosts their impact when they are hollered with a youthful bitterness in the following tracks Demons and Flowers. In these two songs, we start to hear what I consider to be a defining feature of TRAAMS’ music, and another reason they feel so in-your-face – the guitar and vocal lines are often heard moving in unison, which boosts the melody out from the cover of the rhythm section, solving a problem that is often faced by punk bands, especially in live settings. However, more than just allowing us to properly hear the vocal line, the guitar and voice dancing together in synchronised movements creates an interesting effect; at times it reminds me of a snake and charmer, but maybe that’s just because the Beatles used some similar techniques in their more eastern-influenced work.

The next track Head Roll is one of two longer, more experimental efforts on Grin, the other being the final track Klaus. These tunes rumble along with not quite the urgency that is typical of most of the album but as such may be a welcome change of pace for some listeners. Whilst some might balk at the idea of a four and a half minute minimalistic guitar break, as is featured in Head Roll, in keeping the majority of songs below three minutes, I feel that TRAAMS earn that kind of space to do some experimenting in. The mood in Klaus is particularly cool; it feels like a punkier version of the Doors’ Riders on the Storm in a way – the smooth guitar line over the top of a steady rhythm puts it in that category of late-night driving songs.

Hands is, for lack of a better word, the cleanest track on the album. The scatty and overdriven guitar-playing is replaced by a carefully plucked line that’s laden with vibrato. The vocals also again take a more restrained approach and as such it is probably the most easily palatable tune on the record for those after a more polished product than punk music, and its associated genres, often provides. However, to my mind, making raw and scatty music sound good is an art in itself, and the remaining tracks on the album, along with the aforementioned Demons and Flowers, subscribe to this idea. Whilst these tunes follow a similar formula, and an effective one at that, each song has its own unique character, and each is demonstrative of TRAAMS’ knack for finding a good balance between grit and a great melody.

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