One look at the tracklisting of this, the third album from London based Tram, would make it clear that they don’t deal in shiny, happy pop. Titles like You Let Me Down, The Hope Has Been Taken Away and Forgive Me Dear suggest a slow, elegiac album about regret and lost love. Tram certainly don’t disappoint on that score.
Tram’s previous album, Frequently Asked Questions was almost a by-word for the phrase ‘chilled out’. Comparisons to Lambchop and Red House Painters abounded, and it’s a similar story with A Kind Of Closure. The introductory track is a fine example – strings and a stately piano set the pace, before lead singer Paul Anderson’s falsetto, almost feminine vocals creep in. It’s dark and dramatic, recalling the best works of Tindersticks.
Forlorn Labour features a stripped down acoustic guitar backing Anderson’s cracked, fragile vocals bemoaning “there’s better ways to spend my days/than waste my life on you”. Slowly the world’s gentlest drumbeat glides in, before strings add to the general feeling of wistfullness. It’s all quite lovely, and it’s around this point you’re willing to surrender your life to Tram.
However, while it’s undoubtedly nice to wallow in moodiness for a while, too much melancholia becomes a bit wearing. That’s the main problem with this record – it sticks to an almost funereal pace throughout, and could do with a bit more variety. When it works – the aforementioned opening two tracks, and the gorgeous You Let Me Down – Tram sound like one of the best bands on Earth. When it doesn’t, such as on the instrumental The Hope Has Been Taken Away, the results are almost unlistenably dirge-like.
Only Then offers an encouraging glimpse of how Tram’s sound could develop. The tempo is raised slightly, and although the general theme of regret and resignation remains, an irresistible chorus of “When are they all going to find me out?” make this one of the most memorable songs on the album.
Probably one to listen more to after dark, and certainly not one to stick on if you’re feeling up for a party, this is, in truth, a slightly frustrating affair. However, there are enough signs here to suggest that given time, this Tram will be well worth catching.