By: Eric Greenwood
Trans Am’s fourth album delves even further into the world of Numan-esque keyboards and Kraftwerkian vocoders to create the ultimate amalgam of Atari meets cold new wave steel. The rhythm section drives the record for the first half with abrupt staccato beats and robotic riffs. The drums are overwhelmingly prominent in the mix while the guitar sounds distant and heavily affected. Trans Am’s tight and sudden rhythmic shifts have been a staple since the band’s comparatively simplistic debut four years ago.
There is a severe tonal shift on the second half of the record as it slides into an even more blatantly melancholic mode. Everything slows down, and the changes become more conventional. The guitar moves into the forefront despite its splintered and splayed presence, and the songs are long and meandering. This variance is even more noticeable on vinyl because of the obvious transition from side A to side B. Trans Am’s vision of the future is not hopeless but it is cold and stark.
Trans Am uses vocals for the first time on Future World even though they are practically indecipherable because of the effects and vocoders, but their presence is effective, especially on “Television Eyes” and the title track. The band has been experimenting with electronics pretty much from the start, but it got serious on The Surveillance with a mix of organic instruments and obvious synthetics. Future World shows that the band has honed in on its niche of challenging, aggressive rock with cold, calculated computer music.