Need a frown turning upside down? Here’s your medicine.
Mike Diver 2011-06-24
Quite where Southampton-based quartet Thomas Tantrum find so much energy from, given the rather unspectacular, inspiration-lacking surroundings of their home (hailing from the same city, I can vouch for its ordinariness), is a mystery. But it’s great news for the listener starved of indie-pop with a frantic pulse, as the outfit delivers hefty hooks and marvellous melodies across 12 tracks of rarely-lower-than-fourth-gear fare.
The fuel behind their forceful approach is undoubtedly frontgal Megan Thomas, who wraps her chords around all manner of universally appealing subjects with conviction enough to have the most miserable of wretches seeing the brighter side of their situation. Her bright performance – almost as blinding as her blonde locks – pronounces itself boldly from the opening seconds of Tick Tock (Satie), where she rises from slumber – "I don’t wanna get up" – into a boisterous expression of grabbing any moment and making it matter: "Gonna break the mould / gonna take control". This set’s lead single, Sleep, kicks off with a magnificently dragged-out pronunciation of "weeeeaaaaahhhl" that wouldn’t have sounded out of place hollered by Lulu in 1965 (If it doesn’t make you wanna Shout, clearly you’re not listening to it properly), and the delightful xylophone chimes on Betty Blue add a sweetness that’s impossible not to fall for. When the pace does slow, for All in Your Head, the choral vocals are magically enveloping.
Hot Hot Summer is a perfectly crafted slice of warm-weather skip-along indie that could slide onto any station’s playlist and sound great beside the loudest of riffs and shiniest of pop alike. The sentiment at the heart of the song – ultimately about providing the remedy to a partner’s ills; she’s the titular ‘season’ in the depths of his "freezing winter" – might not be especially original, but that’s really not Thomas Tantrum’s M.O.: these are songs to lose oneself to for three-and-a-bit minutes at a time, not to analyse in great depth. Doing so strips their fun away, and given the key selling point here is frequently the sense of merriment that comes through (loudly, crisply, sometimes with bells on), that’s to be avoided at all costs.
Need a frown turning upside down, sir? Here’s your medicine. Administer twice-daily until you’re bopping about your bedroom like a jumping bean. Your only side effects: an ache in the dimples of your cheeks and maybe just a little sweat here and there. It’s worth it.