Monday, June 4, 2018

HC4L021 Traverse - S/T LP 12" (2018)

"The first song on the album is called Firestarter and it was also the first song to be released ahead of the full album – you might even know it from the March edition of the CPRW playlist. Firestarter begins with a reverby fade in of guitars and, when the vocals of the first verse hit, things get faster quite quickly. By the second verse, the pace is a pretty speedy one and we are treated to the perfect example of what Traverse are all about – upbeat indie punk that encourages you to sing along. The chorus in particular begs for you to join in – ‘I wage us leaving on the edge of me, Stood on your feet and pushed you in anxiety, We built this castle on loose soil, We built this castle on loose soil, Please stare at me.’ I think it’s always a little risky releasing the first song of an album ahead of the album itself, because then people will already be familiar with it rather than being hit with something brand new when you first listen to the album – but when the first track is this good I don’t care! There’s a nice fade into the next song, Asymptotes. This second track wastes no time in getting going and will hopefully get your head nodding immediately – it certainly did that for me anyway! I didn’t know what ‘asymptote’ meant before hearing this song but I looked it up and found that an asymptote is a straight line that approaches a curve but never quite gets there. So I guess that’s sort of what this song is about too, always trying to reach a goal but never quite reaching it. The song is a short one but it does pack in another highly singalongable chorus, this time featuring some subtle whoa-ohs in the background – a nice touch. ‘My will dissolved I swallowed it ’till the last drop, Watch me shrivel my determination, I’m so close to get the perfect knot with my rope, Hear me throw up my salvation.’ And then, before you know it, this short song has zoomed to its end. But never fear, there’s more where that came from! Starting more slowly than previous tracks with cleaner, clearer vocals, Meridians is more of a mid-tempo track about trying to deal with your inner demons. It allows listeners to have a bit of a breather while the band show off a more considered melodic and almost contemplative side. The pace and volume does pick up however for a belting final bridge section. ‘We won't be home again, My heart’ll always be elsewhere, Forever in between, Always stuck in between, We’ll never be home again, Our hearts’ll always be elsewhere.’

The fourth song of the album is called La Forme D’une Ville. After a short stop-start few seconds, this track gets going in an almost post-hardcore style, with crashing drums and big crunching guitars. La Forme D’une Ville means The Shape Of A City which also happens to be a book by French author Julien Gracq – I know nothing of this book, I simply googled the French phrase! It’s not just the song title that is in French here, the lyrics are too although interestingly this is the only song in French on the album. The song being in a language I don’t understand doesn’t stop me from wanting to yell along with the band, as this is another passionate, fists-in-the-air anthem of a tune. The bridge of ‘Combien de flammes à attiser, Pour combien d’incendies?’ (which loosely translates as ‘How many flames to fan, For how many fires?’) is the standout moment here, which then gives way to a quieter section before the crashing instruments return to play out the song. It Takes A Lot To Get Home is track number five and it kicks off with an upbeat combination of guitars and drums before things slow down somewhat for the first verse. You can tell that the pace will soon pick back up however. This is a song that deals with negative feelings when you just want to give up but, if anything, the song sort of does the opposite because it makes the listener feel like they’re not alone if they happen to be feeling the same – excellent. As it turns out, the band decide themselves that they won’t be giving any time soon either: ‘Worn out of struggling, You know it feels like giving in, Sometimes I feel like giving in, What if this life was about fighting?, Sometimes it feels like giving in, You know I won’t be giving in.’ Situations opens with a lengthy almost interlude-like introduction that lasts 30 seconds or so (that’s a long time for a punk rock song, right?). The guitars are fairly gentle and pleasantly melodic, soon the drums come in but it all continues to build gradually. The pace and volume picks up after those first 30 seconds but the first lyrics are a little longer coming – but when they do it all feels well worth the wait. There’s yet another great shout-along, fists-in-the-air chorus on offer in this track as well. The kind where the guitars take somewhat of a backseat while the drums and vocals that take the limelight – it reminded me of old Menzingers although is perhaps not so raw as some of their early stuff. ‘Let’s take back the streets, And light the torches, Because nothing’s ever felt alright. We write and sing, “The world or nothing”, And raise our fists through the sunlight.’ The catchiest lyrics of the album however appear in the bridge section of Situations, after an instrumental section. ‘If scissors beat paper, Then our ardour beats their elite.’ (Although I did think that second line was ‘Then I’m already dead.’ for a while.)
Kicking off with a rolling drumbeat before a slowly plodding melodic guitar part joins the mix, Future Ghosts is a much slower song compared to the majority of songs on the album so far. It feels almost dream-like and laid back which makes sense really as is actually matches up with the lyrics – for example, ‘I need to go to sleep now, And forget about it all.’ As much as I’ve been loving all of those shout-along choruses and cathartic moments, it is really quite refreshing to have a slower paced track. Not to mention that it shows that Traverse are more than one trick ponies (I’m not sure that that phrase will translate well for any French readers, sorry.). There are a lot of questions being asked in the lyrics of Future Ghosts, as well as the obvious references to ghosts, and so when the first lines of the next song, I’ll Never Be Missed, continue those themes it feels pretty poignant – ‘Have you ever left someone before, In a ghost town you used to call home?’ This is a steady paced song about feeling insignificant sometimes – like if you were to pack up and leave your town no one would care or miss you. It’s not the most positive of subjects but the way in which it is delivered feels otherwise. We even get some supportive gang vocals that shout ‘Leave it all behind!’ in the middle of the song, as well as the final chorus of repeated ‘I’ll never be missed.’ while the main vocal sings ‘Have you ever lost someone before?’. There’s some great layering on offer here. The ninth song is called Catch A Glimpse and begins with a generous helping of bass guitar. This contrasts with clean poppier vocals as the song progresses slowly through the first verse. The vocals shift to shoutier style for the second verse – ‘The street is setting the pace, This fuss isn't senseless, The curtains will close and it will be a mess.’ And then things continue to swap between the two styles. There’s a great sense of ups and downs, highs and lows, calmness and anger reflected in the song. And who doesn’t love a track that uses a sinking ship as a metaphor for your life?
Drawing towards the end of the album, the penultimate song is Lights In July. The opening bassline and drums will have your head nodding enthusiastically and the more intricate guitar part will have you hooked in no time at all. This is a song full of nostalgia yet, at the same time, it reflects on not actually being able to remember bits from your past and childhood in particular. ‘The kid I once was has never grown up, My old bedroom is full of dull school pictures, These faces and names I can’t remember.’ There aren’t so many lyrics in Lights In July, compared to earlier songs, but it more than makes up for any lack of lyrical content with an instrumental section towards the end of the song. This allows the band to show what great musicians they all are, before the line ‘I can’t feel any pride.’ is sung quietly with minimal backing… at least the first time through. The song ends with the same line being shouted with hella load of passion. After a faded and fuzzy start, the final track, We Sometimes Sleep But Never Dream, hits us with some big guitars. The pace is set high for this introduction and some pounding drums carry things along wonderfully. Traverse are really giving everything they’ve got for this last song! After 30 seconds or so, the pace slows a little and the instruments are turned down a notch for when the vocals come in but they continue to drive the song despite this. There’s a slow verse, a faster verse and one of those huge sing along choruses that we punks love so much – and ironically the chorus is about singing along to ‘just another song’. Just another song that we could sing along, Sing along…’ Then just when you think the song is going to end after two and a half minutes, it seems to fade out… but no! There’s a huge shout-along bridge section ending with the song’s title, ‘We sometimes sleep but never dream.’ Fin.

Traverse have released an excellent debut album and I highly recommend it to any fans of singalongable melodic indie punk rock – that’s everyone that reads this blog, right? " by Emma Prew (Colin's Punk Rock World)

Distributed By – Monster Zero
Distributed By – Recess Ops
Recorded At – Swan Sound Studio
Mixed At – Swan Sound Studio
Mastered At – Sun Room Audio: CD & Vinyl Pre-mastering
Artwork – Kevin Coeur-Joly
Mastered By – Dan Coutant
Recorded By, Mixed By – Guillaume Doussaud
Traverse is Charles, Priscillien Gac Kévin & Charly.

Co-Released w/

Fond Of Life Records
Bad Mood Asso
Joe Cool Records
Saddest SONG Records
Fireflies Fall
NoReason Records
Brassneck Records
Voice Of The Unheard records
Carlos Palacios

Pay as you wish!

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