TRAAMS – ” Personnel Best ” Best Albums Of 2022

Posted: August 7, 2022 in MUSIC

The third album from Chichester’s Traams is their first in seven years. on first listen it felt like it didn’t hit quite as hard as a traams album should (there are only live drums on two tracks & Stu Hopkins is also experimenting with softer vocal tones). on second listen it felt much more powerful. and by the third listen (& on every subsequent full blast indulgence), we’ve found ourselves totally immersed & completely obsessed. Though the band never officially broke up after the release of nine-minute behemoth ‘A House On Fire’ and the subsequent tour at the end of 2017, a break made sense to all three members. “I couldn’t really write, and I didn’t have the motivation to do anything musical. I’m pretty sure I didn’t pick up a guitar for 2 years,” vocalist and guitarist Stuart Hopkins reflects. “I was waiting for that feeling to come back.” In the intervening years, the band went their separate ways.

Joe Casey, the idiosyncratic frontman of past and future TRAAMS tourmates Protomartyr also makes an appearance on the album’s blistering centerpiece, ‘The Light At Night’. “I had this part where I was trying to sound like a preacher, or someone with unequivocal authority, delivering this ranting speech,” Stu says of his idea for the song, “and as much as I tried to get a good version of me doing it, it just wasn’t working. It just sounded like I was trying to be Joe.” What better conclusion, then, than to get the man himself involved? A speculative Instagram message followed, ending up in Casey writing a brilliantly vivid, chaotic verse to send the track towards oblivion. “Kill the body then the head dies,” he spits over and over at the end of the song in a crazed manner only Casey is capable of, adding some blood and guts to the album’s poise and guile.

In the protracted gap preceding the Sussex group’s difficult third record, drummer/multi-instrumentalist Adam Stock focused his energy on learning new instruments and acquiring new synthesizers. Coupled with the pandemic-mandated adherence to low-decibel experimentation due to the closure of rehearsal studios, “Personal Best” finds the group unreservedly embracing the electro-ambient sounds that imbued their earlier, though more stentorian, work.

“Before it’s always been obnoxiously loud,” frontperson Stu Hopkins noted in a press release. “All the things we’d usually relied upon bass and drums locking in, guitar feedback, shouted words—were no longer applicable in this new way of writing.” With this pared-down palette, the band reinvents itself while reinforcing the timelessness of their left-of-centre drone rock.

At the tail end of 2019 the urge to reconnect struck the band, and they headed to Brighton for some initial sessions in a similar way to previous records – guitar, bass, drums, vocals. This continued until the first lockdown happened. After having this initial momentum scuppered, work on ‘personal best’ began again in earnest in summer of 2020, when lockdown restrictions eased. The trio were allowed to meet up in a studio and rehearsal space cobbled together in Stu’s workplace in Chichester.

As a result, ‘Dry’ and ‘Comedown’ – the two songs that bookend the new album, written in those early Brighton sessions – are the only two to feature live drums, a previous staple of TRAAMS’ sound. “There was an element of me not wanting to play drums as much anyway, but lockdown made it happen as we just couldn’t get to a drum kit,” Adam Stock remembers. For a while, the idea was to write within the restraints they were set initially, before imagining full band sessions to flesh out the sound in a more traditional way later down the line.

Due to flats in close proximity and only being able to play and record at night, the band were forced to write music at a hushed volume. “We had to re-learn how to play together,” the frontman says. “It was really quiet and considered, whereas before it’s always been obnoxiously loud. All the things we’d usually relied upon – bass and drums locking in, guitar feedback, shouted words – were no longer applicable in this new way of writing. After our initial reservations, it was incredibly inspiring and freeing.”

ffo: squid, protomartyr, gilla band, iceage, shame, idles, fat white family, warmduscher, dry cleaning, bdrmm

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