Erin Wolf

Trans Am

By - Mar 1st, 2007 02:52 pm
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Trans Am’s eighth studio album finds them in an organic state of mind – no vocoders, more guitar work and averting their own comfort level by recording with borrowed equipment. On Sex Change, the classic Trans Am sound manages to remain brilliantly confusing and captivating, borrowing from prog, krautrock, electro-synth, pop, space-rock, funk and techno. With minimalist and often over-tweaked vocals, Trans Am’s sound has not necessarily evolved since the band’s formation in 1993. It’s merely perfected the art of genre-bending.

While their last release (2004’s Liberation) took a new direction with its politically infused post-9/11 focus, Sex Change retains nothing of this. The band’s Washington D.C. habitat is not as strong an influence this time, and Trans Am chameleonizes its sound further with their chosen recording location of Auckland, New Zealand. The first few tracks really do project a wide-open, spacey sound.

After an almost dance-y start (a la early Depeche Mode), the album picks up the pace with the very ‘80s “Conspiracy of the Gods” then interchanges between their pretty New Order influences (“4,738 Regrets” ) and harder techno influences, compliments of Orbital and the Chemical Brothers (“Tesco vs. Sainsbury’s” ). In showcasing a hardcore guitar lead in “Shining Path,” Trans Am demonstrates their further capacity to be genre-encompassing. Although all over the board, Sex Change manages to be attention-grabbing and upbeat – characteristics that are not always a given with this band.

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