After taking a three-year hiatus, post-punk/indie-pop hybrid The Temper Trap — best known for the single “Sweet Disposition” from their second album, Conditions — is back this week with their self-titled third album. The song, which is best described as a whirlwind of joy in flashback form, pretty much summed up many of the themes of the indie-ish mainstream romantic dramedy (500) Days of Summer in which it was featured. The Australian band’s new album features tracks that range from soft to bubbily to reminiscent of their rock-esque roots. Once again, The Temper Trap delivers music that serves as a personal reflection on the emotional nature of life while embedded in an alternative punky-pop package. However, the band has matured a bit since Conditions.
Throughout this new album, we see that The Temper Trap has become more confident and lost some of their deep-rooted fear of the future and life’s ambiguity, which were strong themes in their last album. Instead, they now focus on the trials and tribulations of love and life with a more mature outlook. While their lyrics are still personal and hard-hitting, it is interesting to witness the band’s emotional growth.
Dougy Mandagi, The Temper Trap’s vocalist, features his strong falsetto and nuanced power in the album. His vocal style is highlighted in “Rabbit Hole,” a song that is both infectious and commanding while remaining intimate. Similarly, Mandagi seamlessly blends his falsetto and normal voice in “Miracle.” This calming and thoughtful piece also combines a traditional sound with a synth-beat that crafts a dreamy aura.
The album’s highest points come from their slower tracks. In their soothing yet emotionally relevant ballad of enduring love, “I’m Gonna Wait,” listeners can relate to the charmingly painful lyrics. The track’s bittersweet picture is set against music that is reminiscent of a classic rock ballad.
Some songs feature more electronic elements than others, particularly “Where Do We Go From Here” and “Need Your Love.” Both tracks also share introspective lyrics that develop from realizations correlated with aging. These themes are juxtaposed with happy beats that derive from the utilization of synth techniques. In “Where Do We Go From Here,” Mandagi comments that “years have gone,” but still questions “How do I know what’s real? / Where do we go from here?” Similarly, “Need Your Love” meditates on the idea that while people undeniably change, they also stay stagnant through the passing of time. “I am the war of flesh and heart that’s left undone / between the person that I was and have become,” Mandagi laments.
The harsher and rock-ier track “London’s Burning” serves as a foil to the majority of the album, which is comprised of subdued and personal songs. This track -– which is almost laughably apropos to current events — feels like an updated and markedly softer version of the music that stemmed from the UK punk revolution. While “London’s Burning” serves as a breath of fresh air from the other songs thanks to its use of jagged rhythms and a brash tone, the track almost feels too random on this album. However, the song is refreshing and enjoyable. In fact, the album would have benefited from having a couple more tracks in a similar vein.
By working through intimate yet completely relatable issues while simultaneously experimenting with different sounds, The Temper Trap bares its soul through the use of musical creativity. The album reveals that the band continues on its quest for happiness, and by listening to the album, we are able to vicariously join them.