Thursday 6 September 2012

Tender Trap - Ten Songs About Girls

Album review by KevW

This latest by the girls and guys from Tender Trap, despite its title, doesn't see them exploring the virtues of some girl on girl action, 'Ten Songs About Girls' instead deals with the issues of being female and gender politics in the present day. Feminists may have already noted that the white, green and purple title on the cover is the colours used by the suffragettes. While some of the issues may involve important issues and statements, they haven't lost their sense of fun and humour or stepped up on any soapbox. Musically they don't break from their decade-long crusade to bring us some high quality indiepop and for the most part the results are great, if not exactly venturing far from their comfort zone.

'Train From King's Cross Station' is a beautiflly melodic opener, but then odd cliché is slipped in. However you suspect they realise this and it's part of the plan instead of naivety. Edwin Collins and My Bloody Valentine are both name-checked in 'MBV', 'Step One' talks us through putting together an indiepop band (sample lyric "Step one: wear matching skirts/step two: act so cool it hurts/step three: write a great chorus/step four: and never mind the verse"). The forlorn, heartbroken 'Memorabilia' contains talk of mixtapes and band badges but really is quite touching. Naturally the melodies are stock fare of the 'honeyed' variety and the harmonies are equally sweet and, dare I say it, twee. 'Could This Be The Last Day' is like a nice warm mug of Stereolab, but of course Tender Trap prefer their's with at least three extra lumps of sugar.

If your love affair with this form of guitar-pop is on the wane then fear not. Despite the routine elements these are still good songs, plus those mentioned are the least exciting picks. All is forgiven once you hear the "baby baby" chorus of 'Leaving Christmas Day', the clappy 'Broken Doll' which is just begging for a good pogoing session, or the grunge-tinged 'May Day'. The high tempo but stuttering 'Ode' recalls 90s feminist alt-rockers Sidi Bou Said but elsewhere the promised female theme seems far more subtle (but maybe, being a man, I'm missing it somewhat). The closing 'Love Is Hard Enough' is like Isobel Campbell-era Belle & Sebastian dipping their toes into 60s pop and is another highlight. So little of earth-shattering brilliance then, more a case of accomplished business as usual, but when you've developed your craft as well as Tender Trap have, then making a bad album is pretty much out of the question.

Tender Trap's website

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