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Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Considering that they met each other while in a thrash punk band called Bin Hoker, it's somewhat surprising that the duo of Paul Anderson and Nick Avery went on to form Tram. Opting for the other end of the musical spectrum (mainly out of their mutual enjoyment of American bands like Low and Smog), they instead have opted for deliberate, subtle, and simply beauty instead of pummeling riffs and screams. While some elements of the above two groups can be heard in their sound, they also go off in different areas as well, nicely incorporating some horns, stringed instruments, and even a telephone bell (hrm).

Actually, including that last instrument may be a bit misleading, as the group doesn't really sway off the beaten path very much. Although they may be a bit meandering in nature, the songs are super-tight sounding in that not a beat nor even vocal is out of place. Frequently Asked Questions is super well-crafted and although it's not quite as sparse (added instrumentation by various musicians helps give it a bit more of a lush feel) as their debut Heavy Black Frame, it's definitely still in the same vein of music.

The album opens with a song that's indicitive of the groups sound, as well as one that sort of falls into the sadcore genre pretty well. Titled "Now We Can Get On With Our Own Lives," it obviously deals with loss at the ending of a relationship and Paul Anderson's delicate vocals sound like they're coming through the receiver of a telephone, making the detachment even a bit greater. On "Giving Up," the duo adds a touch of piano and strings to the mix to again tug just a little more alongside the (again) fairly downer lyrics.

After the slide-guitar touched cover of Tim Buckley's "Once I Was," they again go into that post-breakup territory with "Yes But For How Long." Again, the instrumentation is fairly simple, but in combination with the soft vocals and a light touch of strings, it gives the track a subtle beauty (like a majority of the disc). Although it might seem like a fairly apt title, "Folk" is actually the only instrumental on the album and a very good one at that. After opening with some quietly plucked bass and guitar, it eventually builds to one of the louder tracks on the album with a flourish of strings and even a touch of horn freakout (however muted it is). It sounds like a subdued version of a Spiritualized song, which is actually quite pretty if you think about it.

One of the best songs on the release is also one of the very slowest ones for the group. "Are You Satisfied" adds a layer of organs behind the slow guitars and percussions to give the whole track an almost funeral feel, and Anderson's voice sounds like it could break at any moment as he breaks down each word into individual syllables for emphasis. A lonely trumpet even comes in for a solo just before the end of the track, which ends on a slightly upbeat note. At times, the group not only calls to mind the groups mentioned above, but also definitely has a touch of Nick Drake in their pretty melodies and soft vocals. It seems effortless and tightly constructed at the same time.

Rating: 7.25