Chichester’s reassuringly unpretentious Traams celebrate the release of their excellent sophomore album, Modern Dancing, with this gig at Patterns. The three-piece earned plenty of plaudits for debut album Grin, which showcased their undiluted brand of post-punk, a sound that was equal parts jagged, waspy intent and hypnotic, motorik grooves. The band’s second release on FatCat Records takes the shapes and sounds of 2013’s debut and, under the watchful eye of Hookworms’ MJ, pushes them faster and harder but also introduces softer textures to equally alluring effect.
It’s the play-off between the vicious guitar of singer/guitarist Stuart Hopkins, and the viscous basslines of Leigh Padley that gives the band its angular appeal. Add in the undeniable locomotion of drummer Adam Stock and you have a powerful, sinewy beast. Disparate textures wrestle and resolve: it’s raggedness with a smooth underbelly, broiling basslines and barbed guitar shreds, all of which magically coalesce into a glorious sonic emulsion.
Padley’s basslines are as strong as ever on the new album, bringing a tensile strength to the trio’s songs. If Padley and Stock’s insistent rhythms are the coiled spring, Hopkins’ voice and guitar are the release. Album opener Costner is all stuttering thrust with a sputnik bassline imbuing the whole thing with a typically kraut-tinged clout. Even when skittering atop the ice the band never feels far away from segueing into that motorik groove, but such is their limber musicality and well-oiled understanding of each other’s craft that they reach out in all kinds of directions on Modern Dancing.
Certainly the band has retained its trademark elements; the natural krautrock of Klaus and Peter Hook-groove of Head Roll are revisited and refined here in the extended hypnotic meandering of Sister, while Succulent Thunder Anthem is not only the most propulsive thing the band has recorded, but also features a punky, subverted Strokes-like chorus typical of the bubbling-under melodies that reveal themselves in the trio’s songwriting.
Beyond the familiar, there’s a kind of pseudo-slacker sensibility in the melancholy drift of Silver Lining, with shades of Ian Brown in the laconic delivery of Hopkins, a vibe that continues into the late night fug of the title track. As good as Grin was, the new album is a muscular, sinuous treat; it’s wider ranging but produced with a real feel for the band’s live energy. And that’s where it’s really at with Traams: sweaty, loud, intimate-but-explosive, they’ve always been a trio of musicians who can whip up a sound storm on stage.
For every angsty feedback-fuelled yelp, for every razor sharp guitar incision, there is an equal release, a bass-driven balm to sooth the soul. Adrenalize then anaesthetise. Traams are a muscle twitching, lung filling, chest pounding treasure.