The search to locate that saddest of all keys expands with rigorous, inevitably unhurried, precision on the debut album from this London-based collective....

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The search to locate that saddest of all keys expands with rigorous, inevitably unhurried, precision on the debut album from this London-based collective. Though evidently in thrall to such transatlantic sultans of slow as [a]Low[/a], plus the primitive Americana of Palace, [a]Tram[/a] have elected to furnish this gloomily portentous base camp with the occasional baroque oboe flutter and wheezy keyboards. In lending their enterprise a whiff of mythic Albion, it affords the group a measure of distinctiveness amid a sector rapidly becoming oversubscribed.

His collaborators have served songwriter Paul Anderson well. Organist Bill Lloyd‘s day-job involves playing live with Placebo, so no wonder he channels such uninhibited emotion into these twilight narco-ballads. Clive Painter and Martine Roberts, meanwhile, hone their multi-instrumental skills as Broken Dog, and it’s their languid ripples which touch the listener in the requisite places, most tellingly on the instrumental ‘Like ClockWork‘.

For indeed, Anderson himself is the weak link. His insipid vocals are simply too unappealing to carry a song, unless arranged into the background as they are on the outstanding Mazzy Star-ry ‘Too Scared To Sleep’, or counterpointed by Roberts during ‘When It’s All Over’. And without such adept concealment, his lyrical troths of woe tend towards the clumsily banal likes of ‘Home’‘s, “The silence is making my ears bleed”.

They offer a pleasantly blue ride, but ultimately [a]Tram[/a] offer a means to merely reflect time’s passing, rather than effect its arrest.