Ten years (nearly) and three albums in, it feels like Tender Trap are riding a creative high. Flanked by Elizabeth Morris and Katrina Dixon, Amelia Fletcher has created a modern indiepop girl group. This is not to belittle the rumbling bass and snaggly guitar contributed by long-term Tender Trap blokes Rob and John, but the ladies’ harmonies are truly a driving force on this record, bursting from the songs and layering them with a heart flipping loveliness that transforms the band’s music into something really special.
‘Dansette Dansette’ is Tender Trap’s homage to and update on the sixties girl group sound. The title track name-checks Sandy Shaw, Leslie Gore and The Supremes, the album is strewn with ‘Be My Baby’ drumbeats, sha la las, ba ba bas, big echoey guitars, all the ingredients that make up the kind of pop hit that’s sung in matching dresses and beehives with co-ordinated hand jiving. Only not, because hurrah! feminism has happened, so we can still thrill to sugar-sweet pop but not have to cringe because ‘girls’ can now write the songs and, you know, do tricky man stuff like play drums and guitars.
These are big catchy pop songs played with style and wit. Amelia’s silvery voice is sometimes sweet, sometimes rueful, sometimes annoyed (“We’re ready to get mean”). The guitars fuzz and grumble rather dirtily under the rollercoasting, trip-trap tumbling vocals, so one minute you’re going all shivery to the melodies, the next you catch a fizz of feedback and go ‘Yeah!’
The ba ba bas on the swooning ‘Suddenly’ are er, Heavenly, whilst the guitars crunch and reverberate in a JAMC kinda way. The Jesus And Mary Chain get a shout out (literally) on the wry ‘Do You Want A Boyfriend’, an entertaining gallop that manages to poke fun at indie boys AND inspect the notion of girl-pop en route.
The fabulous ‘Girls With Guns’ smashes dipping and diving three way harmonies up against knee trembling twangling Duane Eddy guitar to exhilarating effect. The urgent ‘2 To The N’, an energetic slice of catchiness pummelled along by some gleeful stand up drumming from Katrina, sees Amelia toying with some elementary maths –as is her want as an economics genius (see also previous album ‘6 Billion People’).
It’s not all hurtling one-two-three-four fuzzpop though, there’s room for the odd indiepop epic here; the gliding ‘Grand National’ and album closer ‘Capital L’ which manages to gather up all the elements that have gone before and build them into a heart-thumping, heart-cracking wonder that means you than have to go back to the beginning and play the whole record again.