Album Review: The Trouble With Templeton – Rookie

By on Monday, 12th May 2014 at 12:00 pm
 

The Trouble With Templeton Rookie CoverAustralian singer/songwriter Thomas Calder has spent the past 3 years developing his band project, The Trouble With Templeton. The five-piece alternative rock band released their debut LP, ‘Rookie’, in Australia last August and have now released it to the rest of the world on acclaimed label Bella Union Records.

‘Rookie’ manages to be both expansive and refined, which is unusual for a debut record. Musically, its layered instrumental effects and dynamic variations create a wide variety of moods, from the dark, thick texture of ‘Whimpering Child’ to the rhythmically tribal ‘Climate’, to the softer acoustic sound of ‘Secret Pastures’. Thematically, it’s a series of rather off-kilter vignettes of personal relationships. The lyrical contexts are somewhat vague; instead of relating full stories, they make you feel more like you’re eavesdropping on a private conversation, catching only a few interesting tidbits without getting any resolution to the events.

The lyrics to ‘Heavy Lifting’ give the remorseful impression of a loveless marriage, following the refrain, “Embarrassed lips / Touching dirty hips / Making romantic quips / Seems so useless / You’ve never opened a door for me in your life” with the observation, “Feeling like she loved you more is tragic / Everything you’ve ever bought is plastic”. Later in the track sequence, ‘Soldiers’ uses a low bass drone to illustrate the “comatose and so morose” feeling of a man lost in the everyday monotony of his own life, while the instrumental and vocal layers eventually build to a chaotic whirl of sound around his loss of identity.

Stand-out track ‘Like A Kid’ is brash and bratty, with fuzzed out guitars and shouted backing vocals that call to mind gang wars between the Sharks and the Jets. Its retro punk sound matches its sneering, sullen lyrics: “Mother, what is it this time? / Mother, why you always cry? / You’re lookin’ like a faucet leakin’ ”.

The uptempo ‘Six Months In A Cast’ has a mildly disturbing feel from the beginning, with an ominous and deeply reverberant bass under its driving guitar riff. That driving rhythm quickly escalates to a frantic tempo before slowing down and shifting to a sense of resolution around the unspecified deception in the lyrics. (Watch the chilling black and white video to get the full sinister effect.)

[youtube]http://youtu.be/RIQtcFEbBxU[/youtube]

Final track on the album ‘Lint’ is another sweetly sinister track that changes moods several times. It starts with a gently rocking guitar melody and a raspy, whispered verse, but hints at something darker with the line, “I’ll know death when I see it, when I see it, when I see it”. Then the bass drum kicks in, like a pounding heartbeat, followed by the lyrics, “Circumstantial evidence / I fumbled the blood, I lost the prints”. The instrumental layers build to a dissonant climax before making a complete 180-degree turn back to the sweet acoustic sound from the beginning of the song. I can’t quite put my finger on what exactly is happening in the plot, or maybe I don’t quite want to, when Calder’s mesmerizing voice sings the final lines: “Head home, your mother’s worried sick / She’s on the phone, oh have you seen my kid / And there’s a sponge in the corner of the room / soaking up all those tears and sweet perfume / Fear or something’s coming soon / Fear of what those kids will do to you”.

Despite its often dark lyrical themes, ‘Rookie’ covers a lot of emotional ground in its musical and sonic effects. The experimental (dare I say progressive?) nature of the music doesn’t interfere with its focus, though the album does have a slightly skewed perspective from start to finish. Having taken the time to fully cultivate their complex musical style, The Trouble With Templeton make a remarkably sophisticated and dramatic impression with this rookie effort.

8/10

‘Rookie’ is out today on Bella Union Records. The Trouble With Templeton appeared at The Great Escape 2014 over the weekend and have scheduled appearances at The Islington in London on the 21st of May, the Oslo in London Hackney on the 22nd of May and the Dot to Dot Festival during the second May bank holiday (23-25 May).

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[…] (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({}); Australian singer/songwriter Thomas Calder has spent the past 3 years developing his band project, The Trouble With Templeton. The five-piece alternative rock band released their debut LP, ‘Rookie’, in Australia last August and have now released it to the rest of the world on acclaimed label Bella Union Records. Read full article […]

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