Chapel Hill, NC, United States
Tracksuit have hit the ground sprinting with their new full-length release, ‘Hidden Worlds’. The album features massive names, and massive sounds, delivering a wholly new take on classic rock, mixing the tones and vibes of that era with new wave alternative sounds and compositions to make something unapologetically indie. The songs are so varied it's astonishing, the through line is a clean and clear vocal style that is beyond unique and raunchy guitars that are played with passion and soul. ‘Hidden Worlds’ is delightful and it keeps you on your toes, shifting and twisting down star-ways and time breaks.
The album harbours what feels like one million instruments. Notably, saxophones, contributed by Dana Colley of Morphine fame. There are also organs, violins, bells, keyboards, what sound like synth pads and other woodwinds. The skilful way in which the instruments are used to create tones and textures that are new and exciting is profound. As the name of the album hints, these sounds are Hidden from us and we discover them as we delve deeper into the sonic Worlds that Tracksuit have delivered.
This journey starts with ‘American Junkie’. We are coaxed into the song with a catchy strummed pattern and drums that hook. The vocals start softly and build as the distinct harmonies begin to warp around the centre vox. The bass goes staccato and does well not to crowd the song, keeping a good rhythmic melody. The breakdown tastes bittersweet as its dips and raises into a soft zenith. The song is kind and warm and comes from a place of affection for classical American rock. You can tell that Tracksuit has their roots in the right place. Punchy vocals, gritty guitar, bass that walks off the beaten path and drums that wrap the whole thing up. This image of a blue-collar band slowly unravels as ‘Hidden Worlds’ breaks its shell open, letting forth a cacophony of textures and compositions that are completely new and inventive.
‘Area #51’ hits us with Chilli Peppers vibes, a call and response verse that builds to a chorus with a tasty guitar tone over top, add to this some sublime drum shuffles and it's a creamy blend of hard rock and pop. ‘Ghost of Rome’ shifts the tone farther from what we are used to and has vibes of The Rolling Stones in its instrumental with soul-like vocals at times. Too comfortable? The tempo breaks; we’re treated to organ tones and a masterful bluesy solo, making this one hell of a unique indie rock staple. We shift once more to country music with, ‘The Jones March On’. Tracksuit display a great ear for complexity and harmony. The guitars melt into one another and the vocals sit on a well-worn bench in the sun, heads on each other's shoulders. The jewel in this country crown is a solo that pairs a violin and an acoustic guitar. It’s divine.
Tracksuit never sits still. They move further from the norm with ‘Sea Of Doubt’ the song where the saxophones take centre stage. ‘So It Goes’ adds synths and sub-bass into the mix. Each time a new idea is added, it sticks, and you can hear its influence in the next song on the album as if your knowledge of the ‘Hidden Worlds’ grows as you delve deeper. The band take influence from rock classics across the ages. If you listen close you’ll hear Arctic Monkeys, Chilli Peppers, Oasis and The Rolling Stones, but you will never lose Tracksuit. They have spun the indie rock sound on its head and have been infinitely creative with their instrument choice and songwriting structure giving this album a sound you didn’t know you were waiting for. Pop ballads in ‘So It Goes On’, sad tracks like ‘Lament, Repeat’ and experimental songs like ‘Inner Space Monologue’.
My pick for the single? ‘Shadow Conspiracy’. It feels like a moody and dark Arctic Monkeys thought that Pearl Jam were the coolest cats on Earth. It flows from section to section with such ease, its melodies stay on the mind and showcase some of the nicest guitar tones I’ve heard in a long time. But you’ll make your own pick when you listen to it. When not if, because ‘Hidden Worlds’ by Tracksuit is aching to be found.