Tracer's Dirty Little Secret is Revealed
The eagerly awaited second album from Classic Rock Magazine award winners Tracer has landed on our door step. This album is refreshingly different from their debut but still retains that Tracer sound.
The opening riff of the album uses a low drop tuning that is as dirty sounding as they come and which sets the tone for the album. El Pistolero introduces us to the character that forms the theme of this album. It is frankly filthy and heavy and works very well with Michael's vocal. I look forward to hearing this live, as Tracer are one of those few bands who, as a three piece can truly fill a room with their sound. There are larger bands that fail to do what Tracer can on a stage. Michael himself states "we can't wait to get out there on the stage and play these new songs. They're going to be epic!" and drummer Dre says "We've always had the comment that; 'It's a lot of noise for three people to be making' and it's no accident."
What is noticeable about Tracer is how un-Australian they sound. Australian bands usually have this element to their sound that you can pick out, but Tracer do not. As a band they are compared to many of the best bands we have seen over the last twenty years like Stone Temple Pilots, Queens of the Stone Age and Soundgarden. The music industry always likes to compare, and whilst the comparisons are inevitable, they are meant as nothing other than a genuine compliment to Tracer, which Michael acknowledges "Those are bands I love so I don't mind, it's obviously a compliment." Tracer nevertheless seek to put their own mark on that sound and Michael's vocals are a key part of that, Dirty Little Secret helps to do that, with clear good vocal harmonies. This is definitely single worthy, with carefully constructed lyrics that depict the feeling of the song using the elements of El Pistolero's surroundings "I never expected rain where the sun would shine."
Dead Garden reeks beautifully of Soundgarden; Michael pushes his vocals to the edge on this song, but not a step further. It is a brilliant track. They build the sound and then pull it right back, letting the bass come through, before launching back into the riff laden sound. There is no virtuoso guitar playing, for Tracer it is all about the riffs and they do that very well. They sing "Drink the water and douse the flame, tame the fire within," this song certainly gets my rock'n'roll fire burning and I cannot wait to set it ablaze seeing Tracer play this live whilst dousing it with some JD and coke from a bottle covered with a brown paper bag. This is definitely my favourite track on the album.
Although listed as a separate song on the track listing the fifty-seven seconds of Ballad of El Pistolero work as a great intro to Santa Cecilia. It is a completely different sound for Tracer, breaking the song back to its acoustic flamenco like basics. There is nothing else like this on their first album and it was a great surprise to hear.
Santa Cecilia is the track that sounds most like the material with which we are familiar from their debut album Spaces In Between and is also single worthy.
The Tracer sound is very much guitar driven, which is evident on tracks like Wolf in Cheap Clothes where the bass lines, whilst solid are not doing anything independent and going outside the boundaries of the guitar lines. However, when we hit Scream in Silence the bass is much clearer and takes on its own life. This particular song lends itself to that and it is nice to hear the bass break away from the guitar, for what proves to be another refreshingly different song from not only other material on this album, but also when compared to Tracer's debut album. It is as if the music of this song live up to the lyrics "scream in silence, loudest sound I heard." The crescendos build to the dirty low notes and high vocals that are poured across this album, linking it to the rest of the album's material, but yet it retains its own unique sound in the verses. The album's producer, the legendary Kevin Shirley really has got Tracer pushing their boundaries outside the box, as Michael himself says "He got us doing things we would never have thought of doing and because of that [the songs have] stepped into a new realm."
Manic for Ya is another song where all the musical components are easy to hear, it is short, swift and powerful. Tracer are killing it in a good way.
The album draws to a great conclusion with Until the War is Won which has echoes of Mexican deserts, guns, horses and sombreros depicted by the Doors-esque guitar lines and befitting of an American Western movie, before we return to the stoner riffs for which Tracer are becoming so well known on Now I Ride. Driven by Dre's very powerful kick drum and on the beat pounding, this song epically merges the sound of this new album El Pistolero with Tracer's debut album and is a perfect closing track. To quote a line from the track Hangman, in this album "I got what I need, oh yeah!"
Catch the band on tour in June, full details can be found here.