As the title suggests, this is album number ten for the Maryland trio and as far as marking that milestone the record is something of a summation of their musical magpie tendencies. Across eleven tracks Trans Am swing from metallic post-rock to tranced-out kosmiche and krautrock grooves, some wispy folk and strange robotic 80s post punk diversions.
Most bands tend to blur and blend their influences within their music yet Trans Am keep them, for the most part, separate. Each song brings a new snapshot of genre and approach. Many work well but some fall completely flat. At its high points Volume X delivers ‘Night Shift‘, a glistening retro synth workout in the vein of Zombi. It sounds cosmic in an intergalactic kind of way and it also succeeds because it sounds effortless. The same can be said for the Mogwai-ish ‘I’ll Never’ with its graceful sway and vocodered vocals and the acoustic strum that leads the melodic beauty of ‘Insufficiently Breathless’. ‘Megastorm’ is the moment where the electronic and rock sides of their collective personality combine most effectively with big drums, grinding, distorted riffs and pulsing analog synths.
These highlights would make for a superb EP/mini-album without the distraction of songs such as ‘K Street‘ and ‘Backlash’ which sound clumsy, immature and inconsequential by comparison. These failings aside this is a good album that, when it reaches its potential, shows that there is still life and creativity left in the loose descriptive of post-rock.
this review was first published in The Music