Trans Am

Sex Change
(Thrill Jockey)

Sex Change starts off re-exploring Trans Am's journeys on the Autobahn, as the echo of Afrobeat guitars washes over the lull of a trance-inducing synth riff. But they move on quickly while keeping the synth front and center on "North East Rising Sun," where droning psychedelic vocals tug against a percolating beat. And by the third track, it's as though they've gone electro-funk. But then the music keeps evolving, adding deadpan vocals, a wall of percussion, and blurts of Belew-esque guitar, until it almost sounds like Talking Heads as raised in East L.A. There's no real unifying theme here — not unless it's an unwillingness to stay in one place long enough for anyone to get a bead on what they're doing, cutting straight from the heavy arena-rock feel of "Conspiracy of the Gods" to "Exit Management Solution," where the synth line works the melancholy side of '80s techno-pop as Asia understood it. Could it use a little focus? Maybe. But there's clearly something to be said for a record whose highlights can range from the vocoder melody topping the disco beat of "Climbing Up The Ladder (Parts III and IV)" to the explosive prog-on-punk attack of "Shining Path."

 
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