Far from moving backwards, on ‘Retrogression’ Tranqua Lite keep moving up and up.
‘Retrogression’ sees Tranqua split the difference between Vampire Weekend and The Police. Chord progressions dazzle, tempos shift and agitate. The whole thing has the unstable energy of a subtly backfiring machine: precise and intricate but ramshackle and unpredictable.
The Leeds quintet remain committed to unflinching sonic largesse – drum breaks, killer harmonies, B-movie synth effects, trippy breakdowns in addition to any number of percussive gubbins, make for an incredibly busy sound. Where the craft comes in is how the band are able to balance and juggle these myriad sounds without it sounding cluttered.
While ‘Tempered Tides’ (banger) addressed the plight of the homeless, their second single focuses on the recent rise in hate crime and a pervasive xenophobia. These ideas play well into Tranqua’s general oeuvre and the panicked, fidgety energy that animates it. Paranoia is a recurrent theme in their music, colouring the edges of their otherwise upbeat vocals and giving the energy of the choruses a delirious skew. You feel that the optimism of ‘Retrogression’ is a response to or escape from the dread of the current state of things.
This combination of upbeat art-rock and social conscience has a Get To Heaven vibe to it. How far you want to delve into all this is up to you – the writing doesn’t pander. If you come for the licks and appealingly direct choruses you won’t be disappointed.
Tranqua Lite have given up taking steps forward and instead take the leaps and bounds their enormous ambition allows. Each single and show suggests something new, some ingenious angle with which to create music that is both heady and appealingly rakish.
‘Retrogression’ is sometimes heavy, sometimes playful, and delivered at breakneck speed. The harmonies are fantastic, the beats restless, the energy febrile. It’s a mini-odyssey into the scary world of the present day. It’s the soundtrack to a street riot. It’s absolutely fantastic and unlike anything you’ll hear all year.
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