Trans Am

Trans Am was always good at playing its blend of Kraftwerk and classic rock for shits and giggles. Its semi-ironic attitude and commendable ability to make irony sound like a dance party earned the DC-based trio legendary indie-rock status. Past albums contained moments where the band's signature "man meets machine" approach hit upon some pretty compelling (if shaky) grooves that got indie-rock snobs across this country shaking their asses like it was 1999 -- i.e., blissfully ignorant of the fact that they were being made fun of, too. Throwaway tracks popped up all too frequently throughout the back catalog, and by 2004's Liberation, the band seemed to be running on empty. This time -- evidently refreshed after taking a hiatus and recording in New Zealand with borrowed gear for a change of pace -- Trans Am re-emerges ready to snatch your vote for album of the year. While Sex Change consistently veers along the usual Trans Am blueprint of alternating between keyboard- and guitar-based songs, it also captures the band pushing itself far beyond that pattern. The result: a rich, delicately threaded group of songs where every track thrills because every second counts. Unlike previous albums, these tunes don't suffer from rhythmic monotony but instead contain peaks, valleys and variation galore. It took a while, but Trans Am is finally burning rubber.


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