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Tripwires | Spacehopper

by Tom Johnson

You only get one chance to open your debut record, so you might as well do it in style, eh? I don’t know Tripwires inner-thoughts but I have no doubt that was what they were thinking when they chose Spacehopper as the opening number on their debut record of the same name. Growing from the, well, spaced-out guitar noise to a more frantic closing second-half, it’s a rather grin-inducing opening, and certainly a stylish one.

Quite why it’s taken the Reading band so long to put together a debut record isn’t for us to guess at; we’re just happy to have them here after the promise of their early singles. Spacehopper is released via the excellent Frenchkiss Records, which makes the opening-tracks statement-of-intent all the more logical: Tripwires are going for it. And they just about manage to pull it off.

The record sweeps between the shoegazeyness of their earlier work and the bands more refined style and this somewhat fractious dynamic is best demonstrated within the opening three tracks. After Spacehopper’s elegant introduction, we get hit with the one-two of Plasticine and A Feedback Loop Of Laughter. The former finds the band as straight-forward as we’ve heard them, a brilliantly heady sub three-minute blast of indie-rock, while the latter drifts on for more than five-minutes, taking in their scuzzier side and the more blissful nuances of the aforementioned title track.

The carefree wooziness of Plasticine is where the band best shine, and indeed it’s true to say that the biggest stumbling blocks arise when things get a little too earnest, such as on Shimmers brit-pop aping mudiness – though the fact that it’s one of the oldest tracks here holds them in good stead as they move forward. Perhaps surprisingly, the record is a much sparser affair than many would have anticipated. Catherine, I Feel Sick, Wisdom Teeth and closing track Slow Mo all saunter along the second-half of the record; their sweet, airy vocals drift over stripped-back guitar lines and create an atmosphere that, in the right circumstances, is mostly affecting. However, it does have the propensity to drag a little when faced in one whole sitting.

On the albums final track the band sampled the sound of static from Jupiter which they found in an old sound archive. Unfortunately it almost feels like too much of that fuzziness crept in to the whole record and got in the way of everything else. There are some fine moments here for sure, but it sometimes just gets a little too lost within itself, leaving a record that hangs high above you rather than one you can really get your hands on.

A thoroughly accomplished debut, rather than the vital one we were hoping for.

Buy Spacehopper via Frenchkiss Records here.

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