Trans Am: Volume X

Post-rock veterans delight but fail to dazzle with tenth album.

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After four years away, the longest gap between albums in their two-decades-plus career, post-rockers Trans Am return with a tenth release that is great in parts, but adds little significant to their canon.

The geographically scattered trio first emerged from Washington DC’s hardcore scene and have drifted back towards their hard-rock roots, with Sebastian Thomson drumming for prog-metallers Baroness, while guitarist Phil Manley vents his heavy urges as Life Coach with Jon Theodore from Queens Of The Stone Age.

Volume X certainly indulges the band’s noisier side, from the mechanised thrash stomper Backlash to the grinding electro-blues explosion of Anthropocene. Elsewhere on the album, more characteristic Krautrock and New Wave synth-pop homages dominate, reaching a sublime peak on the dreamy vocoder ballad I’ll Never, a rare non-instrumental track sounding like Suicide produced by Phil Spector.

But some of the most original ideas here, like the menacing Robocop techno-funk of K Street and the agreeably abrasive synth cacophony Failure, are frustratingly brief and under-developed. Volume X is not a dud album, just a little short on X factor.

Stephen Dalton

Stephen Dalton has been writing about all things rock for more than 30 years, starting in the late Eighties at the New Musical Express (RIP) when it was still an annoyingly pompous analogue weekly paper printed on dead trees and sold in actual physical shops. For the last decade or so he has been a regular contributor to Classic Rock magazine. He has also written about music and film for Uncut, Vox, Prog, The Quietus, Electronic Sound, Rolling Stone, The Times, The London Evening Standard, Wallpaper, The Film Verdict, Sight and Sound, The Hollywood Reporter and others, including some even more disreputable publications.