Tourist Trap’s new record, Flawless, isn’t perfect as the name might indicate, but it certainly has all the fixins of a late summer record that I needed to hear.
As I sit down to write this review, “Cellophane” is playing in the background, and I just returned to my apartment from two cookouts (the latter involved s’mores). The s’mores served there had the traditional ingredients (graham, mallow, chocolate), but the girl who treated us with this delicacy also brought with her dark chocolate and Reese’s Cups. Two things that you wouldn’t expect to see at a campfire; yet, they didn’t feel out of place at all.
Why the diatribe about candy? It kinda relates to this album. Flawless is chock full of elements both familiar and a little offbeat that you wouldn’t expect to see in this context, yet nothing feels out of place. For example, the interlude between “Cellophane” and “Hourglass” is dark and melancholy, but it doesn’t kill the mood. It more so serves as a chill moment to provide a reprieve between two of the most upbeat songs on the album. If you’re anything like me, sometimes you fall victim to the “law of diminishing returns” when you listen to an album. If you’re listening to a record start to finish, sometimes by track 10 you’re not getting as much satisfaction as tracks 1 and 2. Interludes provide breaks between tracks so that songs hit as hard as they’re intended, without breaking the flow of the record.
“The Hurricane” is a fun album opener full of passionate vocals, driving bass, and surfy guitars. The outro to the song has vocals that remind me a bit of Brandon Flowers, and also the defunct Christian rock group Abandon (look em up). One of my favorite moments musically on the album comes in “Years” when that light guitar first hits as a complement to the dirty riffs at the forefront of the song. It’s a song that definitely needs to be listened to in stereo with some quality headphones. If that wasn’t enough, “The After Party” kicks in with a dancey, mathy groove that reminds me a bit of Foals. It was listening to this song that the growth of Tourist Trap over the past few years hit me for the first time. This might be my favorite song on the record.
So, what of my candy metaphor above? That thing about new things not feeling out of place? Well, I wouldn’t have expected a pop punk attitude to permeate such a lighthearted, groovy album. The tone of the guitars are the same as many math rock bands I’ve heard, yet they stick to more predictable groove and melody driven riffs, just presented a bit differently. And all of it feels summery.
When I played this in my car for the first time, it didn’t wow me right away. But stick through a second listen and something will probably click with you if it didn’t on the first go. It’s worth it.