People used to be able to know this band was around by actually following the bloody trail of dead. They used to be hard-touring, hard-drinking, punk-rock renaissance men. They used to write records that felt as powerful as a kick to the brain and they could never play the songs live because they were too busy swapping instruments or breaking them over the edge of the stage. They used to sound like the next Sonic Youth. Now though, now they sound like Coldplay.

It’s not quite that bad. First song proper, ‘Stand In Silence’, marries the discord of old to the new-wave sass introduced on last year’s ‘Worlds Apart’ with some success and parts of the title track rock like an absolute bastard. For the most part though all the ear-splitting power has been replaced by folksy indie strum, all the raw vocal passion traded for mild-mannered melodies and in the place of that brain-pounding intensity is the stubbornly sedate pace of a band growing old. Ever so disappointingly gracefully.

Occasionally the softer touches work just as well as all the raggedy volume. ‘Naked Sun’ takes an age to get there but eventually turns into a swarming, orchestral highlight and a cover of Guided By Voices’ ‘Gold Heart Mountain Top Queen Directory’ is a gentle gem of a song. It’s flowery and nice but you can’t exactly smash a guitar to pieces with it. …Trail Of Dead probably behave like proper gentlemen when they play live now too. How dull.

Also appears at New-Noise.

No comments: