Germany’s Long-Distance Calling have been plying their trade for over a decade now, ploughing the furrow of their own brand of the ever-popular post-rock genre since their inception in 2006. Forgoing the more wistful, ‘telecasters with reverb set to 10’ quiet-quiet-moderate-LOUD-quiet approach of the genre’s most revered names (Mono, Explosions in the Sky et al), the five-piece instead bring a higher tempo and more energy to the game which has nonetheless seen them garner considerable acclaim on the continent.
Trips – their sixth full-length – starts with the upbeat pulse of the instrumental ‘Getaway’, vigour and drive immediately present where a number of their peers might have ushered in proceedings with something more serene. No drawn-out build-ups here – the insistent bass and catchy lo-fi synth melodies strangely bringing to mind Vince DiCola’s work on the seminal ‘Transformers – The Movie’ soundtrack from the mid-80s. In case I need to quantify, this is a good thing.
The second song ‘Reconnect’ commences in a similar fashion and it’s here that we encounter what will likely be a stumbling block for many – the vocals of Martin Fischer. He can sing – that is in no doubt – but his slightly nasal/affected vocals carry a vague hint of a transatlantic twang that is a little bit close to the kind of kiddie-friendly emo vocal whine emanating from bands like Funeral for a Friend or 30 Seconds to Mars for comfort. This is at its most prominent on the song ‘Lines’ who’s pop-tastic chorus is so overloaded with sugary vocal layers as to leave one feeling positively nauseous.
Fishcher certainly has his moments and the affecting croons that lead the opening few minutes of ‘Plans’ more than make up for the occasional misfire and are not a million miles away from Vinnie Cavanagh’s work on recent Anathema. It’s instrumentally where the band really shine though, be it the wonderfully organic drums and lolloping riff of ‘Trauma’ or the billowing leads that reverberate across the surging climax of the multi-faceted ‘Momentum’.
The connections to the metal scene are perhaps tenuous – it’s true that the band have collaborated with a number of high-profile metal vocalists in their time (John Bush, Pete Dolving, Jonas Renske) and have toured with Swallow the Sun but really, this material is no more ‘metal’ than God is an Astronaut or Tides of Nebula (two bands who tread similar paths in their post-rock quests). This is by no means a criticism and for those with a penchant for all things post-y but who find the genre can be a little navel-gazing and self-important at times, ‘Trips’ represents a thoroughly uplifting, modern musical journey.
(7.5/10 Frank Allain)