To begin with, and to give us the excuse to make lots of cheap gags about even cheaper vehicles throughout this review, to anyone who remembers Eastern Europe when it was locked away behind a concrete wall, Trabants were the boxy, functional little cars that were the only personal transport East Europeans were allowed. To anyone younger, your only experience of them is likely to be on the U2 Zoo TV DVD, where Bono and the lads use them as conkers in the way that only multimillionaires can.
If Trabant took inspiration for their name from either, it’s more likely to be from the pomp and over-the-top glam of Zoo TV’s multimedia stage show than the dour streets of the Eastern Bloc. This is a band whose ambition is “to upstage Queen” and whose musical heritage includes death metal, a boy band, DJing and preachers. The result is as messy, trashy and as all over the place as you’d expect.
There are Bowiesque samples on second track Maria and throughout Emotional. At times Trabant sound like terrible Scandinavian thrash metal, at others like cheesy Eurodisco of the type Antoine de Caune used to peddle and at times like Godley and Creme . In other words, there are times when Trabant sound like the worst band you could ever imagine turning up at a bad, mud encrusted festival somewhere south-west of Prague that you’ve wandered into following a stag night you’d rather forget. And then there are moments when it all comes together if not perfectly, then intriguingly enough to make it at least worth the effort, such as on the familiar tones of previous single The One.
On Nasty Boy, there’s a creeping sleaziness, like Scissor Sisters gone wrong, and you can hear it on Loving Me as well. This is the brothel end of music hall, down in the dirt and the dust. But they can also do slower, almost bluesy metal ballads – such as Pump You Up, a song which seems to use its piano riffs to do the opposite of what it says on the tin. Emotional Meltdown has its charms as well, sounding like the Marillion album you used to put on after the bottle of Thunderbird wine you necked behind the chippy with Darren from 4F
All of this may be convincing you that there are other albums you could spend your download pennies on instead this month but you’re wrong. Forget accomplished guitar bands for a minute and enjoy something this messy and camp, a record that’s just having fun.
I’ll leave you with one final thought. When Emotional was released in Trabant’s native Iceland it kept Coldplay‘s X&Y off the number one spot – the only band in Europe who did so, and for that if nothing else they deserve your time. Trabant or Coldplay: you decide, and be prepared to live with the consequences afterwards.