The Lexington – March 14th
In its industrial heyday, Britain was known as the workshop of the world. And the Black Country – the area of the Midlands centred on Birmingham – was its beating heart. Staying with this imagery helps us to frame a question about tonight’s gig -will this Brummie band’s set come over as inspiringly industrious or as simply workman-like?
The band’s members combine their talents to show themselves as master craftsmen at depicting relationships which are doomed to end in loss. They manage to summon-up hopelessness, but in a deceptively light way – they don’t cast the audience down into any dark depths of despair by their use of sound. (As any playwright knows, it’s easier to write a tragic play rather than a comedic one.) The opening number, ‘Eyes Open’, sets the tone for the performance. Starting with a choppy cheerfulness, it leads us into melodic misery with singer Jamie Berry singing plaintively of regret (refreshingly, his voice, whilst summoning-up sadness, does not slip into the gnat-trapped-in-a-jam-jar mode so often adopted by some singers – to demonstrate emotional injury). ‘Moving Pictures’ uses fast, chuggy drumming and elongated, buzz-saw-like guitars before the singer sorrowfully sings of loss. On ‘Imposter’ the slow drums lead us into a lament about people hoping to keep alive (but you suspect that they’ll find themselves fighting against the odds as they try to do so). The guitars are employed on ‘The Honey Drip’ in such a way that the song is languidly suffused with the pull of restraint, and fulfilment, of desire. Only ‘My Grip’ takes a different tack – here, the intro is almost atonal, whilst the song is helped along by sinister drumming.
Poor sound quality slightly detracts from the overall effect of tonight’s performance, but it almost gains strength from the musicians not letting themselves be beaten by technological traumas. If the enthusiasm shown by the venue’s friday-night audience is anything to go by, the Traps are set to capture more followers into their world of happily dark music.