Theme Park – Theme Park (album) (Transgressive Records)
For the past 18 months or so Theme Park have been one of the hottest tipped acts in the U.K. Following the release of their debut single back in August of 2011 (“A Mountain We Love / Wax”), the band was named The Guardian’s ‘New Band of The Day‘ the following month. In between several festival slots, and tours supporting Florence and The Machine and Bloc Party, they released a couple of singles last year concluding with “Two Hours”, which was included in the list of BBC Radio 1 DJ Zane Lowe’s Hottest Records for 2012.
After what seems like an eternity the London trio, consisting of Oscar Manthorpe (guitars) and twin brothers Miles Haughton (vocals, guitar) and Marcus Haughton (vocals, guitar), are finally about to release their debut album. If you’ve heard their previous singles, you won’t be disappointed.
The self-titled debut album is choc full of slick pop songs delivered in the band’s own brand of funk oriented indie-pop coated with delicious vocal harmonies, Caribbean percussive inflections, and tasteful synths.
From early on in their career comparison was made to Talking Heads and while glimpses of that influence can be heard, particularly on the older material included here, more prominent is the influence of Givers, Bombay Bicycle Club, The Maccabees, as well as 70’s funk.
Opening with the mid-tempo “Big Dream”, all the trademarks of Theme Park are here: funky bass lines, solid tasty drum beats, dual vocals and harmonies, and textured indie-guitar lines. A solid but somewhat restrained opener, “Big Dream” is but a taste of what’s to come.
“Jamaica“, which was released as a single back in August (read our review), comes next and boasts one of the catchiest choruses you’re likely to hear this year. A Sound Advice favourite for 2012, indie-pop simply doesn’t get better than this. Effortlessly cool with 80’s flavours and sunny vibes, “Jamaica” is your soundtrack for summer.
Continuing with a one-two-punch, current single “Two Hours” follows (read our review of the “Two Hours” 4-song EP) demonstrating the band’s indie-rock leanings (think The Temper Trap) as the most guitar-prominent track on the album.
The funk picks up with the moody, electronic driven “A Place They’ll Never Know” where synth basses buzz over shiny synth stabs and melodic vocals dazzle over electronic blips. They turn the groove way up on “Tonight“, an immediate album highlight that recreates all the funk, hooks, energy and excitement of the band’s first ever single “A Mountain We Love”. In addition to its joyous funk, “Tonight” is also characterized by its glissando synths that sound like a crisp ocean spray.
The funk continues with two of the band’s earliest set back to back, “Wax” (which originally appeared as the b-side to the band’s debut single “A Mountain We Love” back in August 2011), and “Ghosts” (which originally appeared as the b-side to the band’s second ever single “Milk” in December 2011), both of which have been re-recorded and included on the album. Arguably it’s these two indie-funk gems that still evoke the most ass shaking of all.
Nestled between an album of sleek pop numbers are a couple of experimental tracks to balance out the record: the vocoder-heavy, calypso meets disco-funk odyssey of “Saccades (Lines We Delay)”, and the sickly sweet, almost a-capella calypso that is “Los Chikas”.
The subdued but gorgeous “Blind” shows a more atmospheric side to the band bringing to a close to what is a solid and thoroughly entertaining pop record.
Watch the video for “Tonight” below: