Trapped in Kansas – How To Go [EP]
Scottish bands breaking through to the ears of the masses have been rather sparse in number recently. In fact, over the last year or two the only band to have really gathered a swelling throng of followers are beardy festival favourites Biffy Clyro, and they weren’t without their struggles in the beginning.
While Trapped in Kansas pose as quite a refreshing prospect, releasing this, their debut EP on their own label Overlook Records, How to Go sounds exactly like beginning struggles. The EP verges between exciting and prosperous to been-there-done-that indie dullness. Opener ‘The Man Does Wear The Mask’ is a promising start, atmospheric Wild Beasts style piano stabs combine with overtly Scottish vocals, which in this instance sound so tender that a moderate gust of wind would crumble the lead singer. Luckily the song’s dramatic melancholy is placed well enough to make it sound sweepingly emotional.
The song that follows, ‘I Was Born’ is in stark contrast to the opener. The vocals are more pronounced and are instead backed by jangling guitars that have become synonymous with so many UK indie bands. The disjointed nature of the song however does not provide for riveting listening, coming across instead as a less bratty and exciting rendition of a Los Campesinos! song. Similarly ‘Stick To The Roads’ does exactly as the title suggests, sticking to the middle of a road that many an indie-fan have been down before. It has a certain sing a long quality, but a presence that only lasts for about a minute and a half before wanting to skip to the next track.
‘Skin & Bone’ has a slight glimmer of respite from the distinctly average tracks subjected to the listener so far, but only slight. Intricate math-rock guitars take centre stage and the vocals are far less whiney and sound more tuneful and progressed. It’s not a bad song, but still is very much second best compared to the ideas boasted by of more established bands such as Everything Everything.
Perhaps the standout of the entire EP is the closing track ‘Happiness Is An Allegory, Sadness A Story’. It’s a much heavier song, and does a pretty decent job of combining the short-lived highlights of the EP by simultaneously combining Trapped In Kansas’ bouncy indie pop sensibilities with heavier guitar building melancholy as promised in the first track. It recalls fellow Scotsmen Mogwai as much as it does so many other bands yet is the most original moment on the EP. Also despite being the longest track on the EP, it holds the listener’s attention much more than all previous songs.
All in all, it’s a good thing this is Trapped In Kansas’ first release. While there are many dud moments and often songs are not easily distinguished among one another, there is potential in the moments where they focus less on being a typical indie band and do their own thing, most notably in the more spaced out moments of the EP. There is room to grow, and here’s hoping Trapped In Kansas will one day be a great band.
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