Sound — 8
The Temper Trap come out strong on their third studio album, "Thick as Thieves," combining the guitar-driven sound of their first album, "Conditions," with some of the pop/synth sounds found on their second album, The Temper Trap.
The overall sound on this album is absolutely fantastic. The drums are crystal clear and crisp, as are the vocals and guitars. Though, in my opinion, the best sound on this album comes from the bass guitar. Jonathon Aherne (on the bass) is strong in the mix, though not so much as to intrude on the other instruments; you can hear every single pluck, every single gritty, rumbling crunch as the strings vibrate. I personally find this highly intriguing. It is easily one of the best bass guitar tones I have ever heard.
Dougy Mandagi's vocals are just as good as ever on this album. His flawless transitions between chest voice and falsetto singing along with his perfectly placed vibrato make Mandagi one of the best vocalists around today.
Lyrics — 7
"Who can you believe? / Brothers thick as thieves / they're all thick as thieves" - "Thick as Thieves"
"It feels so good / So good to be alive" - "Alive"
"Summer's almost gone / And you're not coming home / You're not coming home / And I'm still left alone" - "Summer's Almost Gone"
As you can conclude form the above, the lyrics are relatively simple on this album. That being said, Mandagi's rhyme schemes, lyrical rhythm, chosen melodies, and beautiful voice overshadows this, making his effort on this album strong vocally if not lyrically. If you are looking for rich lyrics, deep in meaning, The Temper Trap is perhaps not the band for you.
In "Summer's Almost Gone," the lyrics deal with the end of summer and missing a loved one who is not coming back. I feel like anyone can relate to this one. Despite being simple lyrically, it hits the nail home, so to speak. The same can also be said about the above lyrics in "Alive."
Overall Impression — 8
My overall impression of this album is that it is a strong follow up to The Temper Trap, bringing back more guitar ("Reminiscent of Conditions"), though at the same time keeping that pop/synth influence heard on "The Temper Trap." The things I love the most are the overall crisp production and that amazing bass guitar tone. Dougy Mandagi is also just as strong on the vocals as ever. I would give this album a 7.5/10.
One very small criticism I have about this album lies in the fact that the drums in several songs start in the same way: bass drum pulsing to the quarter note beat. This is only a small criticism because three of these songs are bonus tracks and therefore did not even make it onto the album; the three bonus tracks, "Providence," "On the Run," and "Closer" all start in this manner. That being said, they are all far better songs overall than "Riverina," for example, with which either of these bonus tracks could have been replaced, IMO.
On that note, there are many great Temper Trap songs spread out like butter throughout this album. Though there are a couple that are not quite as strong. "Riverina" is one in particular that does not do much for me. "What If I'm Wrong" is the other one, though I have a feeling that this one will grow on me in time.
The (best) songs to check out from this album are:
1. "Thick as Thieves" (simple but strong, it sounds like a single but has a cool minor-key pulse).
3. "Burn" (this song also has that single feel, though has one of the catchiest pre-choruses I have ever heard; it is always getting stuck in my head for some reason. The song is also up-beat and makes you want to dance).
6. "Alive" (Although lyrically simple, the chorus in this song is the catchiest on the album. This is also a personal favorite track for me. I love the gritty strumming bass guitar at the beginning as well as Mandagi's chosen melodies).
8. "Summer's Almost Gone" (probably my second favorite track on the album despite the simple lyrics. It is another catchy one but is also highly moody/emotional. The lyrics deal with the end of summer and missing a lover who is not coming back home).
9. "Tombstone" (Although not the best song on the album, this one caught my attention because it does not appear to be sung by Mandagi. I have done some research and have not been able to find out if it is sung by one of the other band members or by some other guest vocalist. I was impressed by his effort on this song nonetheless).
11. "Ordinary World" (This song has a post-chorus that includes more heavily distorted guitars than used in the other songs on this album. This in particular really caught my ear and succeeds in drawing me to this song. Though Mandagi's vocals in the chorus are also fantastic, making this song worth checking out).
Also, check out the bonus tracks. They are definitely worth it. Especially "Closer" with its driving beat and plucked-guitar smothered in delay.