Though originating from Australia, the quartet of musicians that make up The Temper Trap moved from Melbourne to London a few years after forming in 2005. So playing to a rammed Shepherd’s Bush Empire was, as they described, a “homecoming” of sorts. And with not an inch of space to spare in the venue, Dougy Mandagi, Jonathon Aherne, Toby Dundas and Joseph Greer had such a reception, playing to a crowd enthralled from the first to the last song.
Airing their recent third record, they kicked off with punchy title track Thick as Thieves, Mandagi introducing the room to the unique use of his wide-ranging voice. They then took the audience back to 2010 with single Love Lost from critically-acclaimed debut album Conditions. They hit a high with the heavy bass line and bolshy lyrics of new tune Alive (who can help but sing along with “Yeah, feel so good/So good to be alive” – even if ironically meant). Mandagi reached the rafters with What if I’m Wrong and they came back on an encore with let-loose Fader. The four-piece kept up a raw energy and passion, ranging from the atmospheric to the all-out rock-out accompanied by some oldskool thrashing from the band members’ long locks.
Demonstrating indie-pop at its best, The Temper Trap’s songs have a melodic, wistful quality but are backed with enough heavy guitars, beats and drums to remain edgy, with cited influences evident of big band sounds such as U2, the moodiness of Radiohead, and an undercurrent of electronic trip hop as mastered by Massive Attack. Consistently changing up the style and tempo of each number, variously introducing synth and percussion, dialling up the vocals or the instrumentals, combined with Indonesian-born Mandagi’s distinctive looks and vocals, ensure they are not just another cardboard cut-out indie group. Though, their newer tracks are notably less experimental and perhaps mark a return to the guitar-orientated music of their first album.
But, undeniably, it was that most sweet of earworm tunes, Sweet Disposition, that seemed to fully capture all that The Temper Trap are. Their parting song of the night, the poetic lyrics and euphoric sound evoked the free-wheeling sensation of dancing through a sun-soaked festival summer’s evening within the walls of the London venue: “Oh, reckless abandon/Like no one’s watching you.” The perfect antidote to a cold end to a bizarre year.
By Sarah Bradbury. First published on The Upcoming on 21st December 2017.
Photos: Guifre de Peray
For further information about The Temper Trap and future events visit here.
Watch the video for Sweet Disposition here: