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Tralala - Tralala

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Artist: Tralala

Album: Tralala

Label: Audika

Review date: Aug. 24, 2005

B-pop bouillabaisse (where the B stands for Brooklyn, where Tralala might claim residency by percentage of members): three guys, four girls, dolled up nice. Guys play the instruments, girls line up front to sing, mostly in unison, dance, shake it, play pattycake, and they all look good while doing it. You care in the live setting because this sort of thing is a treat to watch go down. You are reading about a record, presumably, because the band members have enough clout to see an album to release (there’s at least one band manager in their midst … oh, and the drummer owns the tastemaking NYC retail store, Other Music).

It’s a shame to have to boil it down to these parts, but what makes for an energetic and exciting live act also makes for what would have been a good single, stretched to 32 minutes. Tralala is fairly enjoyable, punky pop music, but is played and styled so anonymously that the music could have come from anyone and anywhere in the last 20 years or so. Three chords and cheerleaders, with energy if not chops nor songwriting skills on loan from the New Pornographers, usually do not generate the sort of excitement Tralala has already worked up. “Whole world’s shakin, bakin, baby and we’re all fired up,” they sing on the opening track, “All Fired Up.” Cool. At least they stay that way through the course of a dozen songs. Perhaps through force of will.

Standouts? Indeed there are. “The Girls Say,” the album’s longest cut at three and a half minutes, slows things down a bit to a less frantic pace, making room for a predictable yet welcome feedbacking four-chord ascension, prettied up by “bah-da-bahs” from the pep squad, and baldfaced, stinging pop lyrics, a staple of radio hits long gone by (“When we’re together I just shake and cry,” sang sweetly in a two-part harmony). “He’s Alright” works an early rock-meets-Phil Spector vibe, with lots of open space cleared for a rousing hand-clapping solo. “Hey!” could pass for Pod-era Breeders levels of sultry brood, with a lazy guitar hook and pockets of speed to cut through the hot haze of the track. Plus, they file in a worthy cover of the Jesus and Mary Chain’s “Never Understand,” removing the fuzz and showcasing that band’s penchant for Beach Boys-style exuberance.

As for the rest, you’ve heard it, and just as good, elsewhere, between Blondie or the Yeah Yeah Yeahs or the Crystals or the Bangles. And it’s fine, but you’ve heard it all before. No really, you have. There’s enough charm to go around here, but just enough. Luck and good fortune have already graced Tralala; they get a pass this time. But their next album had better be fantastic.

By Doug Mosurock

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