Trans Am's music always strikes me as belonging to some sort of futuristic world, and by futuristic I mean a world that Philip K. Dick would imagine – a world that is by turns slightly intimidating and full of ethical pitfalls. The band's music has always been ominous, much like the way a familiar-looking stranger makes you slightly uncomfortable, and Thing continues in that vein.
Which isn't to say that the album is a rehash of Trans Am's earlier work – the band has never been afraid to reinvent itself – it just has the same feel. Thing starts off with a spoken intro, and then jumps into the first proper track, “Black Matter.” The song is full of synths and vocals filtered through various effects, and plods relentlessly along. Like a lot of Trans Am's music over the past decade and a half, it's both powerful and ambient, and the fact that Trans Am has toured with groups as disparate-sounding as Tool and Tortoise is a testament to that dichotomy.
The album never really lets up from there, although there are a few places to catch your breath, such as the dance track “Arcadia” and the spacey “Apparent Horizon” (which you can listen to on our website). Trans Am probably isn't for everybody, but you have to give them credit for always being musically ambitious. If you like your music to take chances, then you should take one on Thing.
Trans Am will be playing the Knitting Factory, 361 Metropolitan Avenue, on April 18. Info at knittingfactory.com