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.
Trans Am: Volume X
Post-rock veterans delight but fail to dazzle with tenth album.
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.