Clash (magazine) - "It's a rare and exciting thing when a record unapologetically slaps you in the face, drenches you in ice-cold water and then launches you into an explosive beast of sonic chaos. Chichester post-punk trio TRAAMS have done just that."
Audio Mixer: Matthew Johnson .
Recording information: Suburban Home Studio, Leeds (01/2015-03/2015).
One of the most intriguing things about TRAAMS' music is how it teeters between back-to-basics punk and artier aspirations. Some of Grin's finest moments were its most experimental ones; the Cissa EP took the band's slow-burning and revved-up sides to extremes; and Modern Dancing tips the balance toward straight-up rock. TRAAMS reunited with Hookworms' MJ to produce their second album, and he helps bring these songs into focus, scraping off some of the murky reverb that gave Grin a certain mystique but also dampened its impact. From the start, the band sounds much more present: "Costner" is downright muscular, spotlighting bassist Leigh Padley's impressive playing, while "AnB" and "Sister" blend TRAAMS' post-punk and Krautrock leanings together more smoothly than before, with equally hypnotic and visceral results. Later, when they lean into the chord changes on "Succulent Thunder Anthem" and "Two Sides," it sounds like the ground is shifting underneath them. Stuart Hopkins' alternately mumbled and snarled vocals are nearly as cryptic as they were on Grin, but his yelps are still a lightning rod for a potent, relatable kind of anxiety. "What's the difference/You've forgotten me anyway" he sneers on "Neckbrace," which plays like a follow-up to the Grin standout "Flowers" with its shifting riffs and desperate need to be recognized. "Gimme Gimme Gimme Gimme (Love)" is even more concise and obsessed, boiling down its need to a two-minute grind. Outbursts like these are more effective than TRAAMS' expansive side this time around; while groove-driven songs like "Silver Lining" and the title track provide some welcome breathing room, they just can't compete with the ferocity elsewhere on the album. Regardless, the joy TRAAMS have in pulling their songs taut and then letting them fly -- an approach that shines particularly brightly on "Bite Mark" -- is more palpable than ever on Modern Dancing, and the fun is infectious. ~ Heather Phares