Tender Trap - Film Molecules CD

(ELE1101: 8428846211015)

TRACKLIST: 01. Fin 02. Oh Katrina 03. You and me 04. Face of 73 05. That girl 06. Talk in song 07. Chemical reaction 08. Son of Dorian Gray 09. Emma 10. Dyspraxic 11. Love is red/green 12. Brown eyes 13. You are gone (so you should go)

TENDER TRAP is a new band formed by Amelia Fletcher, Rob Pursey and Dj Downfall. Amelia and Rob have been playing main roles in the most delicate, precious side of Uk indie pop. Names like TALULAH GOSH, HEAVENLY or MARINE RESEARCH will ring a bell in any pop afcionado from all over the world, from the States to Japan. All these bands reached a cult status in indieland worldwide due to the perfection of their crystal-like melodies.

Elefant Records has always followed the trace of Amelia and company, by releasing in Spain several of their albums: HEAVENLY’s “This is Heavenly” compilation and swansong “Operation Heavenly”, as well as “Sounds from the gulf stream”, the only album released by MARINE RESEARCH. These records documented the constant progression of this pop bunch, from the messy teen-punk-pop of TALULAH GOSH to the most mature moments of late HEAVENLY or MARINE RESEARCH. We also invited HEAVENLY and MARINE RESEARCH to play in Spain (both club dates and Benicassim festival), a place where they have always been very well received.

TENDER TRAP is a new chapter in this delightful saga. Amelia and Rob start writing songs in 2001, trying to make them as simple and stripped down as possible. They also plan never to play live, till Stephin Merritt invites them to open for THE MAGNETIC FIELDS in Dublin; then the plan is revised.

That’s the moment when Dj Downfall comes in: besides playing drums in MARINE RESEARCH, Dj has also his own solo career doing electronic music; after four singles, he’s about to release his debut album in prestigious XL Recordings, home of BADLY DRAWN BOY or THE AVALANCHES. In TENDER TRAP Dj plays bass on live shows and programs drum tracks.

“Film molecules” is TENDER TRAP debut album. The album title suggests the idea of “watching a film through a microscope, to find out what emotions are made out of”, according to the band. A very fine collection of thirteen songs recorded at home, trying to avoid the studios as much as possible. Songs that mean to be direct and elemental in order to avoid the boring, predictive moods of the latest corporate indie pop.

To get full of energy, TENDER TRAP invokes their heroes: that’s why the lyrics feature references to LE TIGRE, WIRE, PATTI SMITH or HUGGY BEAR; all of them perfect examples of instant, intelligent music, refreshing in its provocative attitude.

Such references could make someone expect “Film molecules” to be a hyper-speed, ear-splitting punk-rock album, but TENDER TRAP are far from being thoughtless teenagers in anger; many songs in the album feature a strong sense of nostalgia and quietness. HEAVENLY and, above all, MARINE RESEARCH could sometimes sound autumny and placid, but never reached the perfect solemnity of “Talk in song”, or the two tracks that close the album in a bittersweet way.  The opening “Fin” is also amazing, a hypnotic mantra which benefits from the unmistakable vocals of Amelia.

Therefore “Film molecules” shows a much wider scope, with many new tones of grey in their palette. But there’s also room for much more recognizable tracks, in their best sunny pop tradition. These tracks are combined with the most introspective ones (“You and  me”, “Talk in song”, “Son of Dorian Gray”), giving again an impression and variety and ballance. 

The first blast of energy comes with “Oh Katrina”, maybe the closest TENDER TRAP gets to HEAVENLY. This is an unrequited love song: “one and one will never come to two”. “Face of 73” is also full of vitality and features some electro-pop moods. “Chemical reaction” is the rockiest number the couple has ever recorded, even Amelia sounds slightly cheekier than usual! “Dyspraxic” is a sound shortcircuit, really brief and vibrant. 

“That girl” is a feminist punk-pop anthem, close to previous songs like “P.U.N.K. girl”. The lyrics pretend to pay tribute to all the ones that keep alive the flame of underground pop against corporate boredom: “She likes to play SUZY QUATTRO while she sits and reads; bought it at Woolworths for one pound fifty; she knows the record was made long before she was born,  but it speaks to her louder than KORN”.

“That girl” is also the A-Side of a forthcoming Elefant single for our vinyl club. It will also include “Face of 73” and two non-album tracks: “Badge of love” and “Be my boyfriend”.

We must also mention the singularity of “Love is red/green”, in which Rob sings with Amelia. The result brings to mind “C is the Heavenly option” and other HEAVENLY songs featuring cameos by Calvin Johnson (BEAT HAPPENING, DUB NARCOTIC, K Records).

“Film molecules” means a new beginning for Amelia and Rob after TALULAH GOSH, HEAVENLY and MARINE RESEARCH. They have reinvented themselves as a band, and bring us a debut which combines fun and spontaneous moments with some bitterness and reflection.

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