Retro songwriting doesn’t have to automatically mean recycled style, and I don’t know that there’s another record to prove as much quite as well as The Transonics’ Tides does this August. Incorporating influences as diverse as moderate post-punk, indie rock, garage rock physicality, psychedelic rock, and chamber pop, Tides has a buxom ambitiousness that seems to overstate itself beside the rather minimalistic tracklist, but this feels intentional on the part of The Transonics in every way. Instead of running away from the eclectic elements in their sound, the band embraces them wholeheartedly in tracks like “Tequila” and “Orange Sunshine.”
Here, they find sophistication through the simplicity of the punk structuring of “Getcha” and fleeting romanticism of “Midnight” just as they would a more experimental thrust ala “When You Were Mine” and the title cut. There isn’t anything synthetic or plasticized getting between the artists and their target audience in this extended play, but instead a lot of forward movement on the part of the musicians themselves, each of whom sounds a little more comforted by the studio in these recordings than they did the first time we heard from them back in 2019.
The vocal shapes the core aesthetic of “Tequila” and “Midnight” rather poetically, authenticating the sting of the strings as much as it would convey lyrics independent of the instrumentation’s emotional framework. The most fascinating verses come in the title track of Tides, leaving open so many avenues of interpretation that there’s really no room to deny the multidimensionality of the song’s most basic focal point.
Even when they’re stripping away any and all unnecessary varnish from “Orange Sunshine” and “Getcha,” The Transonics sound like an act that cares about the glossiness of a harmony so long as it emphasizes the passion behind the words. They’re going out of their way to cover as many of the bases as they can, and yet they’re not stretching themselves thin by any means — Tides is tailored to what this band can and can’t do, and for all intents and purposes it teases a greater desire to expand upon a theme than I would have ever expected it to.
For an EP that plays like an LP in every way that actually counts for something, The Transonics have one of the hottest new releases to land on my desk this summer. There’s been a lot of talk about the college rock revival of the early 2020s lately, and while I’m a little skeptical about getting on that bandwagon at the moment, there’s no getting around the smart, post-R.E.M. sound that this group is cultivating on the sidelines of the mainstream.
APPLE MUSIC: https://music.apple.com/us/album/tides-ep/1572182831
Lyrically and musically, this is an extended play that has just about everything the serious alternative rock aficionado counts on from a premium release, and if granted the opportunity to do so I believe that The Transonics will get even better than this disc advertises. Lean and mean in the studio but unafraid of deep-thinking concepts, Tides is a must-listen if you’re into the next wave in credible indie rock.