Two Hours Traffic covers familiar Territory

Two Hours Traffic - Territory
In terms of songwriting, Two Hours Traffic‘s new album, Territory, sounds nearly identical to its previous album, 2007′s Little Jabs. Its mix of punchy pop rockers and sugary ballads is so similar, in fact, that many of the tracks on the new album correspond directly with songs from the predecessor: “Noisemaker” is the scorching, electrified opener—a role previously fulfilled by “Nighthawks”; “Territory” is a Strokes-indebted single that evokes “Stuck for the Summer”; the breezy acoustic strummer “Lost Boys” clearly resembles “Sure Can Start.” Not only do these tunes sound similar to tracks from Little Jabs, they even appear in the same order on the album (tracks 1, 3 and 9, respectively).

mp3: “Territory”

Where Territory differs most from Two Hours Traffic’s previous material is in terms of production. Halifax legend Joel Plaskett is once again at the helm, but this time around he draws out an atmospheric element previously unheard in the group’s work. This is especially noticeable in the ballads: “Wicked Side” is a sparse, guitar-free groove driven by a distorted electric piano; “Weightless One” is haunting piano pop with lush baroque guitar flourishes. Still, despite the new-fangled arrangements, these songs don’t sound markedly different from the band’s previous releases—if given a folk-pop makeover, either track could have sounded similar to “Heroes of the Sidewalk.”

Territory‘s best moments are the rare instances when the band moves into new terrain. The two final tracks of the collection are its two biggest departures, and they’re the clear standouts. With its disaffected vocals and fuzzed-out guitars, “Happiness Burns” sounds like a long-lost college rock classic from the ’80s. Closer “Sing a Little Hymn,” meanwhile, features a subtle electro beat and deeply resonating piano chords. Its lyrics achieve a delicate balance between humour and sweetness, pairing its “I don’t know what I’d do without love” refrain with the anti-religion gag “Think Darwin is the tops / I like triceratops.” These songs suggest that the Charlottetown group may have a bigger range than it has previously revealed.

Territory is out now via Bumstead.
 
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