FatCat Records – out now
Though billed by the band as a “more positive”, “brighter” and “happier” album than its 2013 predecessor, TRAAMS’ second album is far from motivational-montage fodder. Rather, Modern Dancing is the sound of a band achieving catharsis; an admission that, yes, sometimes life is pretty shit, and the process of venting those frustrations can produce its own euphoria. Singer Stuart Hopkins’ flat-out refusal to internalise grievances results in some fantastic one-liners. On ‘Sister’ he tells the song’s unnamed subject that, “Of all the things I do regret, you’re number one,” while on ‘Bite Mark’ he turns the scorn on himself, wondering, “Did I drink through all my best years?” before succumbing to “another night on the ropes, just to see what it takes to really mean it.” Best of all is the eminently pogo-able, breakneck punk of ‘Succulent Thunder Anthem’, which comes with a fantastically passive-aggressive middle-eight, juxtaposing the ragged howl of, “You know there‘s ice on the road,” with, “Please don’t slip and break your neck.” For all Hopkins’ black humour, Modern Dancing ultimately emerges as a more hopeful and accessible set than Grin, thanks to a sharpened melodic focus, the perfect amount of scuzzy distortion, and some truly stellar songwriting. Alongside ‘Succulent Thunder Anthem’, the loose groove of the title-track – redolent of Modern Life Is Rubbish-era Blur – is an instant standout. In truth, naming highlights is a losing game; there’s not a dud track amongst the eleven.
Live: Barfly – January 30th