Few bands would complain about having a world-conquering smash hit single on a debut album. “Sweet Disposition” off of Australian group the Temper Trap’s Conditions took the band from just another indie-pop group to expansive notoriety, thanks in large part to Dougy Mandagi’s sweet falsetto voice. But massive success from one song can sometimes cause growing pains, especially as the band tries to define its place in the music world. Three years later, the Temper Trap has released a very different self-titled second album.
When a band self-titles anything but its debut album, it usually serves as a message of intent: “This is what we are ACTUALLY about.” Perhaps in an attempt to show us who they really are, the members of Temper Trap ditch much of Conditions’ warmth for a harsher edge. Oh, and, if you are hoping for Mandagi’s beloved soaring falsetto to dominate, you will be sorely disappointed.
The opening song, “I Need Your Love,” is the most reminiscent of the Temper Trap we knew previously. Heavy synth and an infectious chorus allow it to be filed nicely alongside the band’s best moments. “Trembling Hands” marks another success on the album and showcases Mandagi’s voice as it sweeps across the lush musical background. And “The Sea Is Calling” provides us with another much-anticipated dose of his higher-range singing.
The weakest moment on the album is the wannabe manifesto “London’s Burning,” which is meant to be a commentary on the London riots. The song is laden in audio clips of news reporters and looters, but with lyrics like, “Who’s the one to blame when the children go insane?”, it is clear that as far as anthems go, this song has little to offer.
So this is the real Temper Trap: less fuzz, more grit. The song “Where Do We Go From Here” presents a question that the group will have to face on its next album; and from what you get from this sophomore release, the answer isn’t entirely clear.