Although the title, ‘Spacehopper’, may evoke images of bopping about the garden on a giant, orange ball, it turns out that Tripwires gave their debut album this name purely because they liked the word for its own sake and comedic effect. Any images it may conjure of youthfulness and space-themed fun are simply an added bonus. Either way, the title seems appropriate as the album is pretty ‘spacey’, and consistent retro undertones of the ‘80s and early ‘90s are evident. With reverb and effect pedals galore, Tripwires make no attempt to hide their influences – the distorted sounds of layered guitars interwoven between pretty harmonies heralding a strong resemblance to long standing shoegazing icons, such as My Bloody Valentine and Ride.
However, although many discernible influences can be heard on ‘Spacehopper’, the innovation and musical talent of this Reading quartet is undeniable when listening to their debut offering, thus making it impossible to pigeon-hole them into one particular genre. Tripwires are clearly making a sound for themselves and, after more than six years together, it seems they’re finally getting the recognition they deserve.
Recorded in Brooklyn, ‘Spacehopper’ was the first time that Tripwires had joined forces with a producer, working alongside the experienced aid of Nicolas Verhnes, who has also produced albums for the likes of Bjork, Animal Collective and Deerhunter. This collaboration proves to have been highly productive and successful, with both parties sharing similar ideas and taking the time to get to know each other throughout the musical production.
The album starts as it means to go on. With an atmospheric aura, the opening track (the album’s namesake) sets the tone with a wonderful cacophony of psych-rock distortion that is to grace our ears for the following ten songs. This isn’t to say the album is in any way repetitive – with each track comes an original and unique approach to the dreamy melodies and rushing guitars that characterise this modern take on ‘shoegaze’. ‘A Feedback Loop of Laughter’, for instance, presents us with psychedelic, effects-laden melodies, whilst ‘Love Me Sinister’ has a more eerie sound with droning riffs and a prominent bass line. ‘Tin Foil Skin’ has a heavier, rockier sound; filled with the striking strumming of guitars and a steady drum beat, a mid-song interlude builds up to a climax of resounding vocals and whirring reverb. And, after a full seven and a half minutes, the song does not seem too long in the slightest, as one can’t help but get lost amid the enchanting atmosphere that has been created.
As well as the consistent cacophony and distortion, Tripwires’ songs are also filled with harmonies, pretty underlying melodies and thoughtful lyrics, thus creating a true recipe for delight. The future certainly looks bright for Rhys, Ben, Joe and Sam.
Space hopper is available now. You can order via http://tripwires.co.uk/