A collection suited to after-hours reflection, the TV playing only static.
Mike Diver 2012-01-06
The name screams hair metal, conjuring visions of hideously made-up, tight-trousered Sunset Strip wasters drinking away their album advances in the mid-80s. But London four-piece Trailer Trash Tracys are no such retro-coloured combo – or, rather, they don’t stir neon nightmares of Stryper and Cinderella. Instead, they summon from the shadowy past whispers of David Lynch soundtracks, 80s drum-machine percussion, Cocteau Twins-echoing ambience and winsomely bittersweet vocals somewhere between Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandoval and the more plaintive tones of The xx’s Romy Croft.
Vocalist Suzanna Aztoria’s sublime presence is certainly the immediate hook here, comprising the most accessible element of music that can, sometimes, be remarkably shrill of design, beats clanging with metallic resonance beneath an enveloping fug. Live with Ester a while, though, and what’s initially suffocating to the point where song structures are reduced to variations of light and shade over any discernable progression from verse to chorus begins to unravel in a quite beautiful way. The first moment of clarity comes with the single Candy Girl, on which the sound of Phil Spector-produced girl groups is overlaid atop a slow-shifting shoegaze-y rumble. It’s a brilliant, charming slice of avant-pop that, in a parallel dimension, would be a number one in a heartbeat.
Once the clouds have drifted further apart, more gems reveal themselves. There’s no way that even the most naïve of listener would bracket Trailer Trash Tracys’ output as chillwave (or whatever variant on the term you prefer), but in the production of Strangling Good Guys and You Wish You Were Red there’s that same sepia-hued haze that characterises so much of the genre’s standout artists. But if the likes of Toro Y Moi and Washed Out are meant to be heard at the beach, Ester is a collection best suited to after-hours reflection, a glass of red in hand and the TV playing only static. Los Angered is a cut from Polly Jean’s Is This Desire LP on a sugar-rush; and the spiralling melody of Dies in 55 proves truly entrancing, dancing like fairground lights against a night sky. Closer Turkish Heights is the sound of a digital bath gurgling down the plughole, fizzy beats draining away just as the colour does from Aztoria’s tremendous performance: from flushed cheeks to monochrome, a soul spent, and the credits roll.