Trans Am – Sex Change
Label: Thrill Jockey Records
Release Date: February 20, 2007
Trans Am has a knack for showing quirks without an excess of words on its anything-but-ordinary release, Sex Change. The band plays a messy concoction of almosts: almost entirely instrumental, almost rock, almost reliant on synthesizers. However, all of the random puzzle pieces still make quite an interesting picture. What do the pieces make, you ask? A Doberman Pincher dressed as a cowboy being ridden by a chain-smoking monkey. I know, that sounds awesome.
The most amazing thing about Trans Am is the diversity (and subsequent cohesion) of these songs. Tracks can vary from light acoustic numbers (“Reprieve”) to loud, electric guitar noise rock (“Shining Path”). And while a few songs leave the listener pleading for a chorus, most of them do just fine without vocals.
The exception to Trans Am’s rulebook, “Obscene Strategies” features low, Right Said Fred style vocals over a modern disco beat complete with boinging electronics. Obviously, this song has a lot going on. And yet, the most complex Trans Am songs are the most satisfying, never feeling cluttered or too eclectic. I would much rather hear an album full of complicated tracks than repeating electronics or guitars as heard in (the awesomely titled) “Tesco vs. Sainsbury’s”.
Trans Am craft many different feelings throughout songs by simply changing tempos or emphasizing certain instruments. “Triangular Pyramids” is the musical equivalent of a mood ring. The sexy acoustic intro will have you rethinking that last “meaningless” hookup, the repetitive riffs simply won’t allow you to move on, and the echoed vocal harmonies point you towards your true feelings. And finally, as the song resolves into a lonely electric guitar, you realize the whole thing was a wet dream. Problem solved!
It would be counterintuitive to name an album Sex Change and proceed to play by the (gender) rules. Trans Am have yet again crafted a catchy, smart and odd electro-journey. Never allowing themselves to be classified as simply synth rock or a pretentious (i.e. they shower regularly) electronic jam band, the group has scored another winner. Sex Change is an album that will move your hips and still appeal to your intellect. So take this enigma of an album to your next book club and see if they don't forgive you for your last musical mishap. Who knew that Mastodon and The Notebook don't go together? Lesson learned.