The Temper Trap’s self-titled sophomore begins with a slow start, and takes even longer to gain traction.

Opening with ‘Need Your Love’ is a poor introduction. A vast misstep of broad musical and lyrical clichés that find vocalist Dougy Mandagi warbling emptily over incessant riffs. ‘London Burningfollows, and doesn’t fare much better. A weak political stance that jams news bites alongside a chorus punctuated by yobbish ‘ayys.’

It’s not until ‘The Sea Is Calling’, four tracks in, that the record begins to finds it feet with an approach planted between the familiarly earnest band we know from ‘Sweet Disposition’,with a new, synth-friendly, production sheen.

Mandagi’s rich vocals and piercing falsetto still demand attention while providing engagement, but his musical backing, sometimes less so. While the few faults of debut record, Conditions, revealed room for growth, on its follow-up the cracks begin to feel like deeper-seeded flaws.

The moody dynamics of ‘Rabbit Hole’ and rousing march of ‘I’m Gonna Wait’ prove to be late album highlights, but otherwise they too often lean on pop posturing like a crutch.

It’s not a bad album per se – unless you consider a three-year long wait for an undercooked record a sin – but the chances that it will re-light the fire that ignited their initial hype are less likely.

– Al Newstead

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