Tram – A Kind of Closure

Tram
A Kind of Closure

The music hasn’t changed significantly since Tram’s brilliant last album, Frequently Asked Questions. You still get dreamy, sleepy British slow-core, focused around quiet guitar lines and singer Paul Anderson’s often almost-whispered vocals. What has changed with their latest release is a greater sense of production and presentation. I’d almost think Dave Fridmann (Mercury Rev, Flaming Lips) manned the boards on this one instead of French producer Dimitry Tikivoi (Placebo, John Cale). The songs have a sometimes similar feel, which adds a new dimension to this already excellent band.
That new feel is nowhere more obvious than the opening track, “Three Years,” perhaps the best song Tram has recorded. Adding strings, piano, and other instrumentation, the song is a seamless blend of beautiful sounds, and Anderson’s voice goes from a hush to more emphatic singing. The song wouldn’t sound out of place on a Mercury Rev album, although Anderson’s beautiful vocals give it the band’s own feel. Again, the band’s newfound presentation is obvious on the lofty climax of the title track, which builds with strings and powerful drumming. The six-minute “The Hope Has Been Taking Away” has a similar feel. Starting with a distant sax, it builds with strings and drumming, creating an enveloping, powerful feel throughout.
The other songs more traditionally fall into Tram territory, which is a comforting land between the home of the Red House Painters and Low. “Forlorn Labour” is a bittersweet track, ultra quiet, making you strain to pick up every word Anderson sings, and “Forgive Me Dear” is a deeply melancholy affair, as Anderson sings quietly of a simple guitar line “forgive me dear, I knew not what I did.” “Only Then” has a nice flow and uses some sweet-sounding layered vocal effects. The quiet yet lovely “Understand” closes the album on a raw note, as Anderson sounds like he’s singing directly to someone in particular, his voice hushed over light drums and building strings and horns, culminating in a moment of intensity and beauty that provides the perfect finishing touch.
This is the perfect early morning or late night album. Anderson and compatriot Nick Avery don’t overwhelm you with music, even on their more full numbers, but they present their songs in a sweet, unassuming way that will have you straining to pick up every lovely guitar chord and sweep of violins. Showing they’re not just a slow-core band, Tram has beefed up their sound on A Kind of Closure, even adding keyboardist Simon Raymonde (Cocteau Twins), and they’ve created another wonderful and warming album. Simply lovely.