Album Review: Temper Trap – Conditions (Infectious Records)

Saul Glassman 1 October 2009

The Temper Trap work by combining misty folds of guitar and synth and relentless drum lines with vocalist Dougy Mandagi’s soulful wail.

If your tolerance for this sort of hooky, wine-soaked summerpop is less than iron forged, then impatience might guide you to hit the stop button at around track five: “Soldier On” is ignorable and far too long at six minutes and “Fader” is a benignly tiresome collection of hoots and jangles that could have come from any by-the-book synth-indie-pop band of the past decade.

Everything on the album is fairly balladic in structure and melody anyway, so when The Temper Trap actually tries to play a ballad, it just sounds like one of the band members is taking a nap. This is what destroys “Soldier On” and makes “Fools” almost equally interest-free.

With the menacing “Resurrection” and urgent second single “Science Of Fear”, though, affairs regain their velocity, and the band excels, here as on the earlier track “Rest”, when they show off their ability to infuse their ostinati with an affecting melancholy.

Conditions stands as a paragon of the sound of summer 2009, but The Temper Trap’s sophomore will be met by indifference unless they explore more fully the dark sierras of mood only hinted at here.

Saul Glassman