Tender Trap - Language Lessons CDEP
matinée 058 / November 2005
- Talking Backwards
- Cómo Te Llamas?
Excellent new single from London trio Tender Trap finds band members Amelia Fletcher, Rob Pursey and John Stanley (DJ Downfall) in absolutely top form. Amelia is arguably the voice of the indiepop generation, fronting legendary acts Talulah Gosh, Heavenly and Marine Research from the mid-80s to the turn of the century and adding her unmistakable vocals to hits from The Wedding Present, Hefner, The Brilliant Corners, and Sportique, among others. Since forming in 2001 as Tender Trap, Amelia, Rob and John have released three singles and the superb album ‘Film Molecules,’ described in one respected music magazine as the “unholy alliance between Blondie and The Magnetic Fields.” The long-awaited follow-up, the ‘Language Lessons’ EP features lead track ‘Talking Backwards’ which will appear on a forthcoming Tender Trap album in early 2006. The song is a refreshing pop hit, full of chunky guitars, mellifluous vocals, smart drumming (courtesy of Claudia Gonson of The Magnetic Fields), ba-ba-ba’s and shimmering enthusiasm as it builds to its highly harmonious conclusion. The EP also includes three non-album tracks: ‘Unputdownable’ showcases more of Claudia’s ace drumming as it mixes lush string-filled verses with a shouty chorus that recalls the heady days of Heavenly’s P.U.N.K. Girl; ‘Friendster’ is a lovely ode to a certain online forum; and ‘Cómo Te Llamas?’ is a frighteningly catchy electropop hit featuring a bilingual duet between Amelia and special guest Lupe Nuñez-Fernandez of fellow Matinée superstars Pipas. Another classic single and a very welcome return for Tender Trap! Limited to 1000 copies in custom minijacket sleeve.
2005's Language Lesson E.P. is more sweet indie pop from indie pop icon Amelia Fletcher and her Tender Trap cohorts. It is their first release in almost four years and not much has changed musically. The first three tracks are typically light and breezy guitar-bass-drums pop with Fletcher's still perfect cute but real vocals over the top with Talking Backwards the clear stand-out. The fourth song ¿Como Te Llamas? successfully brings in some cheesy synths, a new wave beat and Lupe Nunez-Fernandez (of labelmates Pipas) on vocals. Amelia Fletcher has never made a record anything less than wonderful and this is no exception. --All Music Guide
Tender Trap have taken a step back from recent electro-pop outings to deliver up a delightfully jangly and harmonic single that reminds me more of the early Heavenly 45s on Sarah than anything Amelia or Rob have done since. "Talking Backwards" is a grower, lyrically all about being tongue-tied and head over heels, musically impossible not to fall for as a discreet hommage to 60s girl groups and delicate psychedelia. Day each more, it love I. --In Love With These Times In Spite Of These Times
Anyone old enough to recall Amelia Fletcher’s spunky late-‘80s/early-‘90s combos Talulah Gosh and Heavenly can get a quick fix of girl-group harmonies on Tender Trap’s four song EP. Retaining Heavenly bassist Rob Pursey, Fletcher’s London-based trio sports familiar, churning neo-new wave melodies that’ll have you jonesing for a microbrew and a clove cigarette. Magnetic Fields’ Claudia Gonson sits in on drums for a pair of tunes, the best of which (‘Come Te Llamas?’) adds Lupe Nuñuz-Fernandez of London pop duo Pipas for a skittering, bilingual vocal duet with Fletcher. --Magnet Magazine
Where Film Molecules took a short, sharp, often electronic approach to pop and largely scorned the conventions of chorus and middle eight, Language Lessons seems to indicate a return to a more Heavenly approach. "Talking Backwards" is the first song on Language Lessons and the title track of the forthcoming Tender Trap album. It boasts the classic multi-tracked Fletcher vocals, adds backing vocals that go "ba ba ba" in all the right places, explores the awkwardness of an inexpressible crush, and appropriates a line or two of Smiths lyric to boot. All in all, it's a rousing girly guitar-pop joy that takes at least ten years off the soul. --Pop Matters
Throughout the '80s, '90s, and 00's, Amelia Fletcher has made quite an impressive trail of fantastic indie-label pop groups, displaying her gift for truly sublime melodies and harmonies, and her knack for writing witty and emotional lyrics. Following Talulah Gosh, Heavenly, and Marine Research (not to mention roles in Hefner, Sportique, and others) came her current group Tender Trap, a trio featuring three of the four members of Marine Research. Tender Trap's debut album was released on K back in 2002, and now their latest EP Language Lessons is out on Matinee. The title is so appropriate, considering how important language is to each of the four songs; issues of communication are at the forefront in these tales love and infatuation, set to impeccably catchy, bouncy pop tunes. "Talking Backwards" starts with lush harmonies, a driving rhythm, and a clever way of conveying the idea that trying to express love interest in someone can feel like you're talking backwards: the chorus itself is sung backwards. "Unputdownable" sweeps along nicely, with series of sung diary entries unveiling the story of a burgoning romance. "Friendster" has a nice lazy gait to it, one suited for the tongue-in-cheek Internet-era come-on. Then the EP wraps up with a sleek and gorgeous electro-pop duet with Pipas' Lupe Nunez-Fernandez, a bi-lingual personal ad ("Como te llamas?"). All in all Language Lessons is one more sterling piece of a stellar series of discographies, and a great little pop record. --Erasing Clouds
Woah - damn cute if you ask us. Tender Trap have been plying their brand of teasing guitar pop since 2001, a plethora of singles later and with one album already under their belts ‘Film Molecules’ and an eagerly awaited follow up ‘6 billion people’ due to adorn the shelves of the most discerning record outlets later this year they return to the fold now that the sun is out with the dainty 4 track collection ‘Language Lessons’ EP. ‘Talking Backwards’ a taster for the aforementioned forthcoming full length is three minutes of feverishly honed sweetly turned shimmer like 60’s inflected jangle pop that sees the classic indie glamour of the Primitives curvaceously diluted and lovingly draped by the crisp, breezy Francophile la la bachelor pad mindset of Stereolab all married to an audacious good to be alive melodic thread found casually basking in the softened haze of sultry summer afternoons and garnished with the kind of rash like infectiousness that jabs should at least you’d have thought been an essential requirement. Sweeter still ‘Unputdownable’ though trimmed of its fluffiness has all the teasing shyly wrapped pout of Sleeper at their most off balanced best while ‘Friendster’ is I’m hopefully right in surmising the first homage to the web world devouring My Space - a lazy off kilter, part kooky country part bewildered Strawberry Switchblade after partaking of a few funny fags. For me though best of the set is the curtain closing ’Como te Llamas?’ which features the Pipas’ Lupe Nunez Fernandez being invited along for a spot of vocal duelling with Amelia passing out superbly for a young and seductive sounding Debbie Harry and both being pitted atop a delightfully stripped down and wonky sounding slice of fried electro candy pop - kind of irresistible if you ask me. --Losing Today
You know where you are with Amelia Fletcher. Whether with Heavenly, Marine Research or her new band Tender Trap, you know you'll be getting sweet, catchy indiepop with sugarsharp lyrics, swooping vocals and plenty ba da bas. Much like Saint Etienne or Stereolab, Amelia's bands have this specific sound that makes them instantly recogniseable however much they try and push their boundaries. There's not much boundary pushing going on here, mind you, but it's all so enjoyably uplifting and uncomplicated that you can't really complain. Mostly this EP reminds me of Operation Heavenly which was always my favourite Heavenly album so I'm very happy. They even do a song about Friendster and make it feel like it was something from the early 90s (which, with the speed of new internet trends is probably about right). I doubt MySpace will ever inspire anything so sweet. Lupe from Pipas turns up on the final song Como te Llamas? for a sparky bilingual duet that ends things on a high note with a bumpidy beat and the cutest talky bit I've heard in a long time. Lovely. --Diskant
Tender Trap return after front woman Amelia Fletcher took some time out from music to have a baby. 'Talking Backwards' is perky and upbeat and full of happiness, but surprisingly, considering Amelia's background in 80's and 90's indie pop as the singer with Talulah Gosh, Heavenly and Marine Research, isn't too twee either. It features good harmonies and has solid song progression. 'Unputdownable' is an Americana number in a commercial Throwing Muses kind of way, while 'Friendster' is 50's in style and can be sung-a-long too. 'Cómo Te Llamas?' sounds like a mix between Kim Wilde's 'Kids in America' and early disco new wave Blondie. It is possibly the best track here, but the whole of this EP, which preludes 'Talking Backwards', Tender Trap's second album which is due out in the New Year, is pretty much near perfect. Welcome home, Amelia! --Pennyblack Magazine
You’ve got to like Tender Trap. No? Why, it’s Amelia Fletcher’s band! Yeah, well, forget it. They are not Talulah Gosh! They are not Heavenly! They are not even Marine Research! And yet, despite being Amelia’s fourth band, they are just as ace, just as exciting and, as this last EP proves, just as catchy. When their first album Film Molecules came out (Fortuna Pop! and K, 2002), I was totally overwhelmed by it: lyrically it was scarily direct, which I guess is Amelia’s forte. Musically, however, I was hearing something brand new - yes, the girly voice was familiar but everything else was so different from bands that preceded Tender Trap that I was intrigued and wanted to keep listening to it to find out what had changed. Amelia and Rob started a new band with a more minimalist line-up for a reason and, although I can’t pretend they told me it at a drunken party, I suspect that Language Lessons is here to show us why. A brighter, clearer sound emerged in much simpler, bolder arrangements and lyrics to rival Heavenly’s cheekiest yet dark offerings. There are at least three irresistible reasons to buy this record now: 1) It’s got four gripping, ubearably beautiful songs (my favourites being ‘Talking Backwards’ and the song equivalent of Godard’s Breathless, ‘Friendster’); 2) it’s got one of the prettiest covers in the history of indie-pop ever (it features a supercute photo of Amelia looking like a teenager, and her handwriting all over the packaging); 3) ‘¿Como te llamas?’ was written and is sung by both Amelia and Lupe (from Pipas), which is a bit like watching an episode of Corrie with both Status Quo *and* Dire Straits! Quite frankly, this is unmissable. --Tasty