Traams – Grin

Traams - Grin

Traams – Grin

Traams seem as if they have appeared fully formed from practically nowhere. The Brighton trio has made the sort of impact in only a few months that many bands spend years formulating, and with often less than satisfactory results. No such issues for Traams though. They first appeared on assorted blog site radars in June of this year after forming in 2011 and their Ladders EP and now Grin have received near unanimous thumbs ups from the UK music press, while a series of European shows supporting perpetually rejuvenated 70s art punks Wire would appear to have finally asserted their credentials. And if all this sounds as if I’m building Traams up only to lay waste to their efforts with one or two mocking jibes, then I apologise in advance of my actual review of their album, for Grin is a work of near catastrophic powers, a swirling reverb fuelled blast of urban alienation, sullen anger and abrasively atmospheric instrumentation.

A bit like Hard-Fi’s Stars Of CCTV in fact, although I don’t intend this as a criticism, as Hard Fi’s first album is a quite genuine classic, an album which resonates as powerfully today as it did in 2005, and also the work of a band that seemingly appeared fully formed from practically nowhere, in as much as no one had heard anything of them until “Cash Machine” suddenly charted and “Living For The Weekend” was used to soundtrack a beer commercial. Whether Traams will emulate Hard-Fi’s success probably isn’t a question anyone should ask – they are very different bands, utilising very different approaches to their music, and I don’t ever see Traams allowing their music to sell consumer products, but for me there isn’t any getting away from my first impression on listening to ‘Grin’ – the harmonica riff whose ethereal presence adds reverberating depth to first track “Swimming Pool” had me recalling that already mentioned “Cash Machine” track. Hard-Fi were the London garage punk band it was ok for everyone to like.

And everyone who liked Hard-Fi will probably like Traams too, and for a number of different reasons. Traams are one of those bands that, while some of their influences are detectable – The Wedding Present, Dead Boys and Mudhoney amongst them – have absorbed rather than merely replicated those influences and have arrived at a sound that’s almost entirely their own. They don’t repeat themselves either: the tribal percussion that underpins the album’s title track is immediately shifted aside by the metronomic beat and didactic vibrato of next track “Hands” with a practised skill that suggests that Traams are more experienced musicians than their own publicity reveals, but that is only a testament to the elements of timing and control that they wield over their songs. Grin, to utilise a cliché, is the real deal, a debut album as stirring and memorable as those of any of Traams influences and contemporaries, up to and including their euro patrons Wire, and possibly one of the best albums you’ll hear this or next year.