Monday, February 1, 2016

Trolley - Caught In The Darkness

The guys in Trolley haven't lost a bit of the craftmanship that made their 2011 album Things That Shine And Glow so enjoyable. (It was a Broken Hearted Toy Top Ten Favorite of the year, and perhaps more importantly, the track "I Woke Up" was tapped as one of Little Steven's Coolest Songs In The World on his Underground Garage radio show.) Caught In The Dark finds the Milwaukee-based band taking the same multi-dimensional approach it did on Things. Guitarist Paul J. Wall, keyboards player-guitarist Mike Perotto, and bassist-guitarist Terry Hackbarth can all sing lead, and the arrangements they create together are consistently inventive.

Most of the 12 tracks hit the ground running, particularly the catchy "Thursday Girl," which features electronically altered guitars and vocals, and the title track. An obvious 1960s influence once again comes into play, but Trolley uses that era as a launchpad rather than getting bogged down in tepid imitations of decades-old material. "All The Way" has a vintage (pre-disco) Bee Gees vibe but there's also a modern-edged instrumental passage.

The triumphant "She Helps Me Celebrate" also breaks loose at midpoint, while the introspective "Losing That Madly In Love With Her Feeling" serves up some of the album's most exquisite harmonies. "She Has It All" throws another curveball the listener's way by adding a bit of 1980s new wave, while "We All Fall Down" and "The Kids All Sing" are straight-up power pop gems. The extended keyboards coda at the end of "Take My Love" is a gamble, but by that time, Trolley has given the song an alluring psychedelic landscape that makes it work. Also, it's a fitting end to an album filled with adventures.

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