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When The Temper Trap play live, it’s almost blinding. From the first note to the frenzied climax to the final crash – you’re being led, you’re getting lost and you’re loving it. The band is pulsating, beating heart that bucks and swells through flawless melodies, crushing rock surges and pure anthemic revelry as singer Dougy Mandagi’s voice soars, coils and skates inside lush instrumentation and throbbing beats – his eyes closed, and fists clenched. He’s under his own spell, and you will be too.
Born in Indonesia, The Temper Trap vocalist/songwriter Dougy Mandagi drew life from music at an early age. His father, a devout country music fan and guitarist, introduced him to artists like Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash, and growing up Dougy played in bands and sang in the church choir with his uncle, a classical guitarist, and aunt, a pianist. This wealth of musical influence evolved and grew with Dougy as he moved from island to island in Indonesia, then to Hawaii, and eventually to Melbourne, where he hit the streets as a busker – sketching portraits for $25 a pop, and occasionally singing songs for spare change.
A few years later, Dougy was working at the same clothing store as drummer (and walking music dictionary) Toby Dundas. The two decided to start a band. In need of a bassist, Dougy recruited an old friend who worked a few doors down, Johnny Aherne, who had never actually played the bass but was keen to learn – and he and Dougy developed a brotherly friendship. The trio practiced like crazy, and with the eventual addition of guitarist Lorenzo Sillitto, a childhood skater friend of Toby’s, things started coming together – and The Temper Trap was born.
The band promptly began making the rounds on Melbourne’s indie circuit, and after an impressive set at the 2006 Laneway Festival, things started happening – like catching the ear of famed U.K. producer Jim Abbiss (The Arctic Monkeys, Bjork, Adele, Kasabian, U.N.K.L.E), who traveled to Melbourne to record The Temper Trap’s debut album. Ahead of its release, the band has relocated from Australia to a shared flat in East London, where they’ve immediately charmed critics – the BBC and NME deemed them a “Band to Watch in ’09.”
And when you hear Conditions, it’s easy to see why. Due out stateside October 13 on Glassnote Records, the album is a glorious and dynamic ride through uncharted musical territory, careening elegantly through the disparate musical reference points and artistic sensibilities of four very different people – you can hear Lorenzo’s love of old Motown, Toby’s penchant for indie and electronica, Johnny’s affection for modern pop-rock like Weezer and The Flaming Lips and Dougy’s devotion to everything from U2 to Massive Attack, Katy Perry to Bob Marley, and Radiohead to Arcade Fire. Album opener “Love Lost” alternates soulful, R&B-style vocals with soaring washes of sound; “Down River” delivers a potent rally cry you can’t help but scream along to; and songs like “Soldier On” duck and weave around Dougy’s ethereal falsetto with unparalleled grace. The heart of the album, though, is its first single, “Sweet Disposition” (which appears in the film and the soundtrack of 500 Days of Summer, starring Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt) – it’s an epic ride, throbbing amid Dougy’s feverish, other-worldly voice, which somehow manages to recall Prince, Thom Yorke and Curtis Mayfield in the span of a single song.
The Temper Trap have undeniably arrived – and delivered. And they’re here to stay.