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.