ram, the London-based slow-core act fronted by singer/songwriter Paul Anderson, has been around since the late 90’s, producing consistently somnolent, moody and hypnotic melodies from Day One. A Kind of Closure is Tram’s third release and is a reasonably mesmerizing experience featuring slow, haunting tempos of sweeping desolation.
These typically personal and predictable sounds are meant to move you on both a physical and emotional level. Oddly enough, they succeed and you find yourself giving in to the disc’s bleak, yet enrapturing groove.
And, it’s not just the groove that’s gonna get you: Paul Anderson writes unapologetically coercive songs, delivered in a choking, trembling falsetto. Of note is the emotionally deft, neo-folk sound of “A Painful Education,” which finds Tram echoing Codeine, Acetone and similarly melancholic, dream pop bands. As usual, Anderson’s vocals are eerily ethereal and shadowy — the psychedelic murmurs of a musical minimalist – and like-wise well-served in songs such as the tearjerker “Three Years” and the string-fest, “Forlorn Labour.”
This is slower than slow and moodier than moody music. Nick Avery contributes to the overall mournful and reflective mood by providing a slow, drawn out drone to these songs of insecurity and pained emotions. Fuller orchestration and stepped up production lends itself to gradually enlivening these compositions, infusing horn and string arrangements that creep onto the aural terrain, methodically winding up, slowly intensifying and expanding, until waves of shimmering sound and fuzzed-out guitars fill the air, surrounding you in a blanket of emotional fragility.
While neither a thematic nor sonic departure from Tram’s previous releases and, therefore, nothing to get really excited about, A Kind of Closure shows the band at a point of creative progress. Some songs actually possess lively, visceral sketches (like those one would expect from either Spiritualized or Stereolab).
Tram, however, has always been systematically nocturnal and morose. Though mildly experimental, A Kind of Closure remains true to Tram’s original formula and shows no signs of a major deviation. Maybe someone oughta tell them that change is good for the soul.
Reviewed by: Roxanne Blanford
Reviewed on: 2003-09-01