This review originally appeared on Megagogo: News for Playboys
For a band that jumped off the indie/dance rock bandwagon during the heydays of bands such as Bloc Party and The Killers in mid-2000s, a scene that eventually collapsed in its self, Taken By Cars has surprisingly sustained the cred that they have amassed since their 2008 debut “Endings of a New Kind”. Their first album bore the marks of a young band too eager to break out. High speed kicks like the singles “Uh Oh”, “Weekend Memoirs (in HD)” and “December 2, Chapter VII” form a garish soundscape of guitars crunching, pedal-pumping frenzy.
Three years later, their sophomore album ‘Dualist’ surprisingly veers off into a cleaner, steadier direction. Dualist is lighter, there are no gyrating hipster tunage unlike the previous album’s obvious preference to a post-punk/shoegazey bent. Most of the songs in Dualist, such as ‘Considerate’, ‘Intermission’ and the lush closer ‘Sea Bass’, are subdued, widening the band’s scope. It’s as if they have consciously laid the songs in a subtler route, occasionally injecting it with moments of brilliance.
The album’s lead single and opener ‘This is Our City’ careens off as a perfect introduction to the band’s new sound. It never sounds too foreign and its just anthemic enough to make you want to glide down through a highway on a topdown while the lights of the city flicker away into little pockets of their own. The song finishes off into a turbo-powered precision while guitars fade off like the sound of a car driving off to some forgotten part of the city, but still nevertheless something that is called home.
Synths also make an appearance in ‘Dualist’ creating a dense layer of guitars, bass lines and electronic bleeps. ‘Thrones: Indifference” and “Thrones: Equals” form off a strong pair of songs, carved from the same synth-thumping space. But it is “Equals” that stands out, even from the rest of the album. Vocalist Sarah Marco warns “You should not have come here” over and over while an assault of pounding percussion, slow building guitars wash away to a “graceful madness”; an end that is both bitter and glorious.
As an album that exceptionally captures a band’s growth, “Dualist” is undoubtedly one of the strongest releases of the year, something that cements their reputation as one of the new bands to watch out for, as acclaimed by Time Magazine.