Tender Trap are now a proper girl-group! In contrast with earlier Tender Trap, which had a more electronic bent, the newly revitalized 'Trap has stronger links to the pop lineage of its founder members; Amelia Fletcher and Rob Pursey were in influential indiepop originals and John Peel favorites Talulah Gosh and Heavenly, who released records on such indiepop labels as Sarah Records, K and Stephen Pastel’s 53rd and 3rd. Neither Talulah Gosh nor Heavenly (Amelia's previous bands) had this much vocal harmony going on. With two extra girl voices (from new guitarist Elizabeth Morris of Allo Darlin' and new drummer Katrina Dixon) the band now combines the harmonies, oohs, ahs and sha-la-las of classic girl-pop with the stripped down beats and dirty guitars of the Shop Assistants and The Vaselines.
Following their albums Film Molecules (2002) and 6 Billion People (2006), we’re very excited to bring you Dansette Dansette, the band's excellent third album. Bristling with crunchy guitars and effortlessly catchy tunes, Dansette Dansette is ample proof of why Amelia and Rob's bands have been such a huge influence on today's generation of pop bands. Revered by today's revitalized indie-pop scene, their records are floor-fillers at indie dance clubs and their influence can be heard in bands such as Los Campesinos! (who namecheck Fletcher in their song "International Tweexcore Underground"), The Pains of Being Pure at Heart and Dum Dum Girls. Even US rockers The Hold Steady reference Heavenly in the title track of their new album Heaven is Whenever.
"Dansette Dansette" kicks of the record in fine fashion, morse feedback bleeps leading into a melodic ode to the bedroom record player. Being the first single from the album, "Do You Want A Boyfriend?" is a perfect chunk of pop, but it's not as innocent as it seems - it celebrates the girl-pop phenomenon, but deconstructs it too. "Girls With Guns" and "2 To The N" are more punk-inspired, hearkening back to Amelia's Talulah Gosh roots. Slower tunes like "Suddenly" and "Counting The Hours" give plenty of room for Amelia's vocal interplay with Elizabeth and Katrina, and "Capital L" wraps up the album in epic fashion, a tambourine-driven slow-dance which builds to a glorious crescendo.
Fans of the album's artwork should check out designer Chris Summerlin's website here
Fans in the USA and Canada should purchase this record from Slumberland Records.
Tender Trap are far from the most prolific band around, perhaps on account of Amelia Fletcher’s decidedly un-rock-and-roll dayjob as an economist in the Office of Fair Trading. Then again, it may not be the most surprising thing for a cult heroine like Fletcher, a figurehead of indiepop for nearly 25 years who’s rubbed shoulders with Calvin Johnson, Stephen Pastel and…er…Gareth Campesinos!, amongst others. Still, Fletcher’s fourth band have never really seemed like a functional unit, with a rotating cast – at one point relying on a CD-R for their drum tracks – and it showed on their albums. While 2006′s 6 Billion People had at least one bona fide classic (‘Talking Backwards’), its saccharine nature became occasionally cloying, with some exceptionally cringe-worthy lyrics about “having chats on Ebay” to boot.
Fortunately, with a newly-solidified line-up boasting Allo Darlin’ frontlady Elizabeth Morris on guitar/gorgeous harmonies, Dansette Dansette proves to be the record Tender Trap have always had in them. Practically a beginner’s guide to the work of Amelia Fletcher, all bases of her career are covered in these ten new songs. The title track kicks the album off with some thrilling, mix-filling feedback, while Fletcher, whose voice seems to have miraculously defied the aging process over 25 years, reels off a litany of girlypop icons, before closing with the wonderfully metapop plea “Are you fading out? Is it over?”
Meanwhile, ‘Girls With Guns’ sounds like Valerie Solanas and Young Marble Giants collaborating on a Bond theme – all moody twang and feisty thrash, and the teaser single ‘Do You Want a Boyfriend?” is cutely clumsy, deftly managing to rhyme “please”, “tease”, “psychologically” and “gynaecologically” and reference The Shangri-Las and The Jesus and Mary Chain within one verse. Yet, for all the album’s quickfire pop thrills, it’s the ba-ba-ballads that really stand out; ‘Suddenly’ is a jangly retro heartbreaker with a descending chorus to die for, while three-chord wonder ‘Counting the Hours’ leaves you unable to do anything but swoon.
While the band’s two core members – true blue veterans since the salad days of Talulah Gosh – haven’t exactly ventured into unchartered waters of their C86 brethren The Pastels, Dansette Dansette is a welcome thirty-minute reminder of the simple, giddy joy of pop music and arguably the finest album Fletcher has been involved with since the early nineties. Much like Teenage Fanclub’s latest LP, the sublime Shadows, there’s no pretension and no bombast here, because there’s no need for it. Simply put, this is the sound of a band at their best.
(The Line Of Best Fit)
It's almost as if Amelia Fletcher is keeping Tender Alive and fighting to hand down the baton of First Pop Queen to Elizabeth Morris, because this latest album from the veteran of the indiepop "scene" drips with the same pop nous as we saw on the recent Allo Darlin' record.
Whereas past Tender Trap albums have had the odd track that could maybe described as loosely experimental, every track on 'Dansette Dansette' rips straight through your beating pop heart.
The three singles from the album, 'Fireworks', 'Do You Want a Boyfriend?' and 'Girls With Guns' set the bar high with fizzing guitars, 'Be My Baby' drums and swirling harmones that threaten to set you adrift.
But that trio is easily backed up by the almost rock-y '2 to the N', which sounds not unlike early Kenickie, and features the heaviest guitar part seen on an indiepop song for quite some time.
That's not to say there aren't tender (ho, ho) moments, too. Some might remember the stunning live version of 'Grand National' Tender Trap played at Indietracks last year. Well, it's pleasing to report that it loses none of its poignancy in the studio.
Similarly, 'Counting the Hours' just might be the saddest song you'll hear this year, whilst 'Suddenly' is perhaps the finest track on the album, but also the most understated. Sometimes less is more.
At a time when there's seemingly a new favourite band to love every week, there's something so precious about Tender Trap. The fact they're still releasing pop classics like 'Dansette Dansette' is enough to make this heart melt. Yours will be next.
(A Layer Of Chips)
Tender Trap’s new album ‘Dansette Dansette’ might at first listen sound like a tribute to the innocently sweet girl pop of the 60s. The female harmonies of Amelia Fletcher and the newly added Elizabeth Morris (Allo Darlin’) and Katrina Dixon seem to mirror those of the Supremes, Betty Everett and others who sang songs about the love of a good man. On closer listen you realise, however, that these are not love songs, but a collection of feminist empowered pastiches. The title track 'Dansette Dansette' opens the album and is a lovely piece of harmonic pop in the vein of Motown’s greatest female artists, but, however, it is an answer to their lacklustre leanings towards love; Amelia sings sweetly in her whispery waivery voice but her lyrics poke fun at the likes of Sandie Shaw and the Supremes and their naivety. In ‘2 To The N’ Amelia sings, "It's the end of an era/And love comes no nearer" highlighting the distinction.
Amongst the 60-esque soul pop can also be heard punchy punk and fuzz pop numbers such as ‘Do You Want A Boyfriend? ’ and ‘Girls With Guns’ which adds gusto to the girl power. Instead of advising how you might be able to tell if he loves you (“It’s in his kiss”), Fletcher and co’s answer to ‘Do You Want A Boyfriend?’ is that he has to please you "Psychologically" and tease you "Gynecologically." These are songs about vengeance; "Do you know what you’ll get if you do that again?/A bullet to the brain!" and sisterhood; "You can sink or you can swim/All you need to do is stop your thinking about him/and pull each other through." Influences such as Riot Grrl punk and Shoegaze also shine through - Fletcher shamelessly namedrops the Jesus And Mary Chain. It is also distinctly reminiscent of Amelia Fletcher’s earlier outfits Talulah Gosh and Heavenly and it is refreshing to hear such deliciously powerful pop.
Aside from the punk pop and pastiches, it is important to mention, that there are some wonderfully grown up aspects to the album. ‘Suddenly’ is one of those moments, still superficially 60s in sound, it has a wonderful soft and deep feeling with a wonderful chorus that drops as Amelia sings huskily, recalling Dusty Springfield’s 'Breakfast in Bed'. 'Dansette Dansette' is therefore an album of many angles and depths; it is both an exploration and answer to pop, both serious and hilarious, grown up and childish. Great.
Dansette Dansette is the third album from Tender Trap, a band formed from the ashes of John Peel's beloved Talulah Gosh and Heavenly. Here Amelia Fletcher, of the two aforementioned bands, crafts a fine slice of classic girl-group indie-pop. This album is all jangly percussion and tuneful vocal harmonies wrapped around lyrics of love, lust and real girl power. The addition of Elizabeth Morris from Allo' Darlin and new drummer Katerina Dixon means there's call and response vocals and brilliant melodies on tracks like lead single 'Do You Want A Boyfriend?' and the twangy uptempo 'Girls With Guns'. Elsewhere they channel 60's rock stomp on 'Danger Overboard', while the moody, drawn out closing track 'Capital L' finishes the album in a dark atmosphere with quiet, screeching feedback and a mid-paced melancholia. Far better then than the similarly named but terribly insipid and quite frankly horrible Temper Trap.
(The Music Fix)
Suddenly, when ex TalullahGosh/Heavenly vocalist Amelia Fletcher shouts “JESUS & MARY CHAIN!” on Do You Want A Boyfriend?, the shopkeeper appears and we are all musically transported back to the mid-to-late ’80s where bands were shambolic and melody counted more than musicianship.
Back in 2010, the return of Tender Trap adds more momentum to the previously much maligned ‘Twee’ revival (soft, pretentious, too scared to rock – twee became used as an musical insult much in the same way kids now use ‘gay’ to basically deride anything they don’t like) and as with fellow indie-poppers PoBPaH’s debut, their new LP is as faultless as it is retro.
Adding new members Elizabeth Darling from Allo Darling and Katrina Dixon (Cat Police) to the fold, Amelia, Rob Pursey and John Downfall have managed to hit gold with Dansette Dansette, which unapologetically mimics their previous bands’ highs.
The LP is choc full of Spectoresque drums, twanging guitars and the sort of harmonies that were common when the Dansette Record Player took pride of place on the family sideboard. Amelia has always had a canny knack with a (retro)pop melody and it’s this that elevates the album over a lot of their contemporaries, with a good 90% of potential pure pop singles held within the ten tracks on offer.
Album highlights include Capital L, Grand National and the aforementioned Do You Want A Boyfriend which rhymes “psychologically” and “gynaecologically” whilst sounding like the Shangra Las on speed, which is all great fun.
The summer is here so why not celebrate the sun by letting your macho, rock guard down, embrace your inner tweeness and shimmy around your Dansette… you know it makes sense.
As a founder member of Talulah Gosh, Heavenly, Marine Research and Tender Trap, not to mention occasional vocalist and contributor with the likes of The Wedding Present, Hefner and The Pooh Sticks, Amelia Fletcher succinctly qualifies as the female figurehead of all things twee. Whatever one's own take on such gems as 'Lemonhead Boy', 'Testcard Girl', 'Hopefulness To Hopelessness' and so on and so forth, there's no disputing her considerable influence over a scene that many thought would dissipate by the close of summer 1986. Instead, thanks to clubnights like How Does It Feel To Be Loved?, festivals such as Indietracks and a multitude of post-millennial artists ranging from Vivian Girls to Ballboy to Los Campesinos!, the spirit of Ms Fletcher's youth is very much alive and kicking, something which her third full-length outing with Tender Trap, Dansette, Dansette celebrates with nostalgic vigour.
With a four-year gap since previous long player Talking Backwards, the current expanded five-piece line-up - founder members Fletcher and long-term partner Rob Pursey plus former Dweeb bassist John Stanley having been joined by Allo Darlin's Elizabeth Darling and drummer Katrina Dixon - recreates the shambolic punk stylings of Talulah Gosh in many ways, except with the added bonus of experience to fall back on. What this means is that while the luscious punk-pop of 'Do You Want A Boyfriend?' and 'Girls With Guns' could quite easily have found themselves on Rock Legends: Volume 69 some 21 years ago, Fletcher's almost tongue-in-cheek refrains on the former ("Does he have to like the Jesus and Mary Chain?") blend quite well with the latter's clarion call of "Are you willing to come clean, now we're ready to get mean?", like a mother being introduced to her daughter's first boyfriend.
Sandie Shaw and Lesley Gore find themselves namechecked among others on the album's title track, while 'Counting The Hours' occupies a similar plaintive middle ground to that of The Primitives 'Thru The Flowers', or even Best Coast's 21st century update on such matters. Its the Spector-esque lilt of 'Danger Overboard' and closing gambit 'Capital L' that resonate the most, not least by way of evidently displaying that maturely focused pop needn't necessarily be as mundane as magnolia wallpaper or Ford Mondeos.
Now with two young children of her own, making music is understandably way down the list of Amelia Fletcher's priorities. However, Dansette Dansette, along with last year's long awaited and hugely successful return to live performing at the aforementioned Indietracks suggests that even though almost 25 years have passed since her first recordings were committed to vinyl, her relevance in the present day should not be be underestimated.
(Drowned In Sound)
Ten years (nearly) and three albums in, it feels like Tender Trap are riding a creative high. Flanked by Elizabeth Morris and Katrina Dixon, Amelia Fletcher has created a modern indiepop girl group. This is not to belittle the rumbling bass and snaggly guitar contributed by long-term Tender Trap blokes Rob and John, but the ladies’ harmonies are truly a driving force on this record, bursting from the songs and layering them with a heart flipping loveliness that transforms the band’s music into something really special.
‘Dansette Dansette’ is Tender Trap’s homage to and update on the sixties girl group sound. The title track name-checks Sandy Shaw, Leslie Gore and The Supremes, the album is strewn with ‘Be My Baby’ drumbeats, sha la las, ba ba bas, big echoey guitars, all the ingredients that make up the kind of pop hit that’s sung in matching dresses and beehives with co-ordinated hand jiving. Only not, because hurrah! feminism has happened, so we can still thrill to sugar-sweet pop but not have to cringe because ‘girls’ can now write the songs and, you know, do tricky man stuff like play drums and guitars.
These are big catchy pop songs played with style and wit. Amelia’s silvery voice is sometimes sweet, sometimes rueful, sometimes annoyed (“We’re ready to get mean”). The guitars fuzz and grumble rather dirtily under the rollercoasting, trip-trap tumbling vocals, so one minute you’re going all shivery to the melodies, the next you catch a fizz of feedback and go ‘Yeah!’
The ba ba bas on the swooning ‘Suddenly’ are er, Heavenly, whilst the guitars crunch and reverberate in a JAMC kinda way. The Jesus And Mary Chain get a shout out (literally) on the wry ‘Do You Want A Boyfriend’, an entertaining gallop that manages to poke fun at indie boys AND inspect the notion of girl-pop en route.
The fabulous ‘Girls With Guns’ smashes dipping and diving three way harmonies up against knee trembling twangling Duane Eddy guitar to exhilarating effect. The urgent ‘2 To The N’, an energetic slice of catchiness pummelled along by some gleeful stand up drumming from Katrina, sees Amelia toying with some elementary maths –as is her want as an economics genius (see also previous album ‘6 Billion People’).
It’s not all hurtling one-two-three-four fuzzpop though, there’s room for the odd indiepop epic here; the gliding ‘Grand National’ and album closer ‘Capital L’ which manages to gather up all the elements that have gone before and build them into a heart-thumping, heart-cracking wonder that means you than have to go back to the beginning and play the whole record again.
Het Britse Tender Trap huisvest een paar Britse indiepop veteranen die al meer dan twintig jaar geleden actief waren in bands als Talulah Gosh en Heavenly.
Tender Trap zelf is toe aan album nummer drie, en die is minder elektronisch getoonzet dan de voorgangers. Dansette, Dansette grijpt terug naar het jaren zestig meidengroepgeluid van Phil Spector. Dat doet de band met zeer opgewekte liedjes die vrolijk stemmen. De meerstemmige zang is niet in alle liedjes even goed in balans, maar de glimlach gaat geen moment van het gezicht. Dansette, Dansette doet denken aan platen van de Pipettes en Camera Obscura, ook bands met een hang naar meidengroepen uit de jaren zestig. Alleen had een een iets beter verzorgd geluidTender Trap beslist goed gedaan.
Dansette Dansette is the third album from Tender Trap, a band formed from the ashes of John Peel's beloved Talulah Gosh and Heavenly. Here Amelia Fletcher, of the two aforementioned bands, crafts a fine slice of classic girl-group indie-pop. This album is all jangly percussion and tuneful vocal harmonies wrapped around lyrics of love, lust and real girl power. The addition of Elizabeth Morris from Allo' Darlin and new drummer Katerina Dixon means there's call and response vocals and brilliant melodies on tracks like lead single 'Do You Want A Boyfriend?' and the twangy uptempo 'Girls With Guns'. Elsewhere they channel 60's rock stomp on 'Danger Overboard', while the moody, drawn out closing track 'Capital L' finishes the album in a dark atmosphere with quiet, screeching feedback and a mid-paced melancholia. Far better then than the similarly named but terribly insipid and quite frankly horrible Temper Trap. 7/10
(The Music Fix)
Amelia Fletcher is as key a figure in twee as Stuart Murdoch or Rose Melberg. She’s had a series of bands like Talulah Gosh, Heavenly, Marine Research, and currently Tender Trap that all share similar sounds and sensibilities. On the third LP from Tender Trap, Dansette Dansette, Amelia Fletcher and company bring another collection of infectious summery pop that is simultaneously cheerful and cheeky.
Like many of the twee greats, below the gentle and precious veneer lays a sharp wit and fearless honesty. On “Do You Want A Boyfriend,” Tender Trap question and answer, “Does he have to please you? Psychologically. Does he have to tease you? Gynecologically.” Fletcher sings from the heart, frequently employing a playful and humorous brand of laid-back feminism. She focuses her lyrical lens primarily on relationships and love. It's a modern update on Spector-era girl groups, neutralizing the helpless spirit of catering to the male that dominates the perspective of most of those oldies classics.
“Counting The Hours” stands out with whimsical nostalgia and reverb-rich atmosphere as Fletcher remembers the daily process of pining away after a meaningful love connection. On “Fireworks,” Fletcher is once again lamenting unrequited love while deftly finessing a play on words with the chorus, “I should have know better than to play with fireworks.”
At this point, Fletcher is an elder stateswoman in indie pop and twee, one that created the musical legacy that newer acts like The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, Architecture In Helsinki, and the All Girl Summer Fun Band are all taking cues from whether they know it or not. Many twee-heads may never see anything she does as approaching the heights of Talulah Gosh or Heavenly, but they won’t be disappointed either.
Here’s a summertime treat with a double slice of retro heading back towards the girl vocal bands of the sixties and, at the same time, the more recent indie rock scene.
First, here’s a little history. The Dansette was a brand name for a popular record player in the 1950s and 1960s when buying and playing seven inch vinyl singles was all the rage. You could stack up to double figures of records on the player and the idea was that when one record finished, the next one would drop down to take its place. This was a nice theory, but all too often the whole pile would come down together, rather ruining the effect!
Dansettes were brightly coloured, square boxes with a lifting lid to reveal the turntable within. The speaker, or later, speakers, were incorporated in the front where the control knobs were also usually to be found. The late lamented Woolworths would sell you a set of four spindly legs to elevate the record player from the floor, but most preferred to sit or lie on the floor and spin their discs!
You can buy a retro-style record player today complete with the ability to play vinyl and CDs and record MP3s formats etc... Certainly Tender Trap’s record is just the sort of music to play on such a wondrous piece of equipment. Tender Trap, not to be confused with The Temper Trap, were founded in 2001 and have released two previous albums, Film Molecules in 2002 and 6 Billion People in 2006. These featured a more electronically based sound, but now here comes plenty of slicing guitar work and increased girl vocal power!
Original members Amelia Fletcher and Rob Pursey, ex-Talulah Gosh and Heavenly, have been joined by Elizabeth Morris on guitar and Katrina Dixon on drums, both of whom join in with the vocals to provide a joyous, poppy sound to a rock beat. The title track sets the pace with its lyrical nod to Sandie Shaw and Lesley Gore (you get the picture?) and The Supremes and could re-start the whole how-do-you pronounce ‘dance’, or even ‘danse’, argument all over again!
The pop bounce of ‘Do You Want A Boyfriend?’ makes it the ideal choice for the first single from this set, though you cannot imagine girl bands from the classic era singing a song with ‘gynaecologically’ in the lyrics somehow! There’s a diverse range of song topics to choose from, including ‘Girls With Guns’ and the housewives’ choice of horse races ‘Grand National’.
If there is a fault, then it is that the vocals do sometimes get lost in the overall sound and if you are going to feature clever lyrics they should be heard. After all, the famous Phil Spector ‘wall of sound’ managed to project the girl singers’ vocals clear of all those drums and big instrumentation, just listen to ‘Be My Baby’ by The Ronettes, you can hear every word. I’m sure that Mr Spector would love to produce Tender Trap, but he is currently otherwise detained.
When the cheeky, quaint and ultimately charming outfit of ‘Tender Trap’ went on an extended hiatus from music at the end of 2007, many fans of this whimsical group may have thought that this was the last we may have heard of this band. However, we all like pleasant surprises don’t we? And Tender Trap definitely gave us that when they reformed in 2009 emerging from musical wilderness as a five-piece and ready to expand upon their musical horizons.
So we find ourselves here in the middle of 2010 and the band has decided to treat us all with their third offering, “Dansette Dansette”, which is their first album since 2006, and it is more than welcome music to my ears. It seems all the things that were unique about this twee group have not been forgotten about at all. If anything, they have been enhanced tenfold by the addition of the two new band members that have joined in perfect harmony with the talents of Amelia Fletcher et al.
The album starts brightly with their distinct brand of indie pop in the form of the title track ‘Dansette Dansette’. It highlights that this band have come back with a purpose and are not just wanting to go through the motions for the sake of just getting another album out. This track has the feel of a wonderful summer anthem that would not be unwelcome getting airtime as you laze languidly with a loved one in a park. There is something about the lead vocals that draws you in about this band. It can be put down to the fact that you just don’t expect the slightly awkward tones of the voice to win you over, but when coupled with the dreamlike harmonies that eloquently float over in the background, it makes for a piquant mix.
This warm feeling carries on to the second track ‘Fireworks’ where the bubblegum pop genre of 60s American gets a nod with another feel good track that wouldn’t feel out of place on retrospective film.
The third track, ‘Do you want a Boyfriend?’ makes the feel good feeling resonate for the third time in a row and is definitely one of the best songs on the album. It has an infectious rhythm, great chord progression and fantastic lyrics that really demonstrate Tender Trap’s ability to make you feel happy listening to the tracks, a feeling that is lost on some of the more depressing and serious artists that permeate the industry today.
The next four tracks; ‘Suddenly’, ‘Girls With Guns’, ‘Danger Overboard’ and ‘2 To The N’ unleash a faster and slightly harsher rock edge to the bands music. The music does still sound a little dated but this is not detrimental to music, it just adds to the charm and makes the band more appealing, especially with ‘Girls With Gun’s which sounds like the theme tune to an Indie western.
‘Counting The Hours’ and ‘Grand National’ although being musically tight as the other tracks lack the certain nuance of its predecessors and they don’t really go anywhere. This is not to take from the overall feel of the album as this band deserves every credit for this output that you can garner from them.
The final track ‘Capital L’ provides a fitting end to a great resurgence for this band and is easily the best song of all 10. It is extremely fine and well written piece and you can’t help but admire it. If I could give you any nuggets of advice for July, it would be to check out this band and make sure that it won’t be another 4 years before they grace us with their talent.