Charms with a breezy ease that guarantees it a spot on your stereo.
Mike Diver 2010-07-16
C86 means little to a lot of people, but to a certain group of 1980s indie fans the NME-released cassette compilation was the catalyst for love affairs with a series of twee indie-pop outfits. Not all of the featured bands could be categorised that way, jangled melodies a characteristic of only a handful of contributors; but the tape led to C86 being recognised as a (sub) genre of its own, one that Tender Trap sit comfortably within.
The connections to the C86 era aren’t simply sonic – the band’s line-up has its share of ties. Founding Tender Trappers Amelia Fletcher and Rob Pursey were members of Talulah Gosh, whose Sarah Records-released, John Peel-approved singles were essentials for any twee-pop fan. When they split Heavenly followed, and their four albums were of a similar style. Now, after two records of an electronic slant, Fletcher and Pursey have returned to the accessible, knowingly retro sounds they made their names with. They’ve expanded to a five-piece, too, introducing harmonised backing vocals reminiscent of 60s girl groups.
Dansette Dansette is every bit as predictable as it is enjoyable, a reminder that bands don’t need to reinvent any wheels to deliver satisfyingly complete collections. Not a second here hasn’t been recorded before, every gently bopping beat, fuzzy guitar and lovely lyric stirring thoughts of several bands past. Creativity of a cutting-edge variety might be in short supply, but such is the experience of the musicians here that their craft is exemplary. Once pioneers, now well-practised, Tender Trap don’t put a foot wrong, regardless of how quick their step is.
Suddenly is one of the album’s slower moments, Fletcher’s vocals soft in a foggy mix but supported by Katrina Dixon and Elizabeth Morris – throughout, the back-up duo lend depth to proceedings, colouring in the gaps deliberately left by Fletcher’s lead role. When the pace picks up, they’re not found wanting – Girls With Guns skips along at a sweaty rate but the players are never at risk of tripping, and 2 to the N is better still, its rising coos gently smoothing the track’s punk energy.
Though thoroughly removed from today’s indie crowd, Dansette Dansette charms with a breezy ease that guarantees it a spot on whatever equivalent to its titular player you bop about to in your bedroom. And if you loved the C86 scene back when, you’ll clutch it even closer to heart.