Album: Trans Am <!-- none onestar twostar threestar fourstar fivestar -->

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The Independent Culture

After Liberation (2004), the band's musical depiction of imperialist paranoia in their hometown of Washington DC, Trans Am in effect split for a couple of years, the three members settling in San Francisco, Auckland and London. When they came together again to record Sex Change, they didn't have any equipment and had to record on borrowed gear, which has given the album a sense of immediacy and dynamism lacking previously. And, although wig-outs like "Shining Path", "Triangular Pyramid" and especially "Conspiracy of the Gods" feature the standard Trans Am formula of surging psychedelic guitar riffs borne along on avalanche drums, there are signs elsewhere that the lay-off has freshened their outlook. The electropop synth grooves of "First Words", "North East Rising Sun" and "Exit Management Solution" sound like Gary Numan fronting Neu!, and a brittle electro-funk panache drives tracks such as "Climbing Up the Ladder" and "Obscene Strategies" - the latter a reference to their own sardonic version of Eno's celebrated Oblique Strategies creative aid (sample advice: "Rip off black musicians").

DOWNLOAD THIS: 'Conspiracy of the Gods', 'First Words', '4738 Regrets'