Chart-conquering Aussie quintet The Temper Trap is frequently swept into the post-U2/Coldplay dustbin of festival mainstage–wannabes. But that kind of lazy description seems unfair: When the world’s biggest bands attempt such a Herculean level of radio-rock pandering, they don’t come off this irritating.
Singer Dougy Mandagi spoils most of this synthy, stifled sophomore disc with a series of pointless romantic platitudes (“Need Your Love,” “Trembling Hands”), but it gets worse when he tries to tackle heavy subjects like class struggle and political uprising on the downright embarrassing “London’s Burning,” a simplistic take on the infamous 2011 riots.
The Temper Trap becomes more tolerable on the album’s second half, when they tone down the bravado enough to craft a successful slow-burning jam (“Rabbit Hole”) and a temperate love song that, with any luck, will provide the roadmap for their next album (“I’m Gonna Wait”).
Two lessons can be learned from this album: A band’s sonic scope should expand organically before they can capably reach for the heavens, and the world as we know it is barely big enough for one Bono.
Playlist picks: “I’m Gonna Wait,” “Rabbit Hole”
The Temper Trap play the Kool Haus (132 Queens Quay E.) on Aug. 7.