The Tragic Thrills

The Tragic Thrills

Written by: TL on 18/12/2013 23:34:28

Having reviewed bands I actually knew in advance for a long stretch now, it feels almost weird to start a review without a bit of a history recap, but the fact is that I don't know a whole lot about The Tragic Thrills: An American pop-rock quartet whose members have apparently come together from past projects to release the band's self-titled debut in October. Fortunately the band isn't hard to make friends with, debuting with ten pop-songs that all rely mainly on piano, clean and/or acoustic guitar and a sharp, raspy clean vocal that's characteristically American and "radio-charming".

The good news is that via the clearly enunciated and quirkily penned lyrics of singer/guitarist Zach Porter you'll quickly get the feeling that these guys are proficient enough songwriters to engage you and give you melodies to recognise and hum along to on return listens. If opening duo "Tears" and "Afterthoughts" don't convince you of this, then "Crazy" likely will, opening with a rhythm that gets your attention instantly, and peaking with cries and falsetto in the chorus that are impossible to ignore. Generally though, the album is pretty successful in its obvious attempt to be instantly infectious, although I personally find the most striking moment in the beginning and then at the end in "Fever" and "Main Girl".

Before you get to those though, "Gospel" will flash a slightly heavy-handed tempo in its chorus that, although it's dynamic, does drag a bit, and on at least a couple of occasions Porter and his friends get somewhat corny in the lyrical department, making for the kind of moments that on one hand make you remember the songs but at the same time make you grimace every time you hear them. In the Jason Mraz-ish spoken word of album closer "Main Girl" for instance, I can't help but to shake my head at how catchy the song is and how much the backing vocals remind me of Robin Thicke, despite how it makes me cringe every time the narrator, in trying to convince a girl that he's the real deal, describes himself as "winner winner chicken dinner".

Overall the album is one where you have to take the good with the bad, with its fine production and tight, efficient songwriting and decent melodies representing its merits, and with the occasionally silly lyrics on the other side. Furthermore, what also holds things back is that while I don't think there's anything wrong with being poppy, The Tragic Thrills too often settle for being "just poppy", aiming for the memorable melody and the quirky hook and leaving it at that. It's only on the sensitive, balladic "Fever" - where we get a bit of scratchy reminiscence thrown into Porter's vocals - that we feel like there's a bit of vulnerability and edge to things. Other than that, I think this debut is more thrilled than tragic, and while it's impressively ready-made for radio success at this early stage, I feel like the hooks need more weight behind them to give the band significant staying power.


Download: Crazy, Fever, Main Girl, Gospel,
For The Fans Of: The All-American Rejects, Relient K, Never Shout Never, Jazon Mraz, Maroon 5

Release Date 22.10.2013

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