Trans Am really like Kraftwerk and Brian Eno—there’s nary a moment on Sex Change that doesn’t sound like either Another Green World, Trans Europe Express, or something from the Tron soundtrack. If you’ve ever corrected someone on their pronunciation of “Moog,” you’d better get a copy of Sex Change pronto. Like all of Trans Am’s records, Sex Change is adventurous, quirky, and largely instrumental. Only two tracks sport lead vocals: on “Obscene Strategies,” a wacky baritone shows up singing about computers (probably) after a groovy intro peppered with 1999-esque synths, and there’s a vocoder on “Climbing Up The Ladder, Pt. 3-4,” an eerie disco tune that sounds like what might be playing in a roller rink in purgatory. But aside from the extraordinary feat of recording music with vocoders that isn’t annoying, Trans Am’s niftiest quality is that their instrumentals are almost always their catchiest, most memorable songs. The gorgeous opener, “First Words,” is a bouncy replicate of early Depeche Mode, and “Exit Management Solution” sounds like the most amazing midi file you ever downloaded. And the clever “Shining Path,” a backdrop of synths skewers the Miami Vice theme song while a noisy guitar works its way through a chromatic scale, building to a cacophonous shoegaze-y climax. Like any band that sounds like Kraftwerk or, for that matter, has a John McEntire and/or Thrill Jockey affiliation, Trans Am makes albums for record-collecting geeks, so it can be a little surprising to be reminded just how much the band can rock. And Sex Change rocks: it’s the perfect soundtrack for pounding-along-on-the-steering-wheel or jogging or trashing your apartment for no reason. It doesn’t hurt that the band has shed the gloomy polemics of their last record, Liberation, and that nearly every track toes the radio-ready, three-minute long line. Sex Change, like some of the best pieces by the Boredoms or Glenn Branca or Eno, is a startlingly fun album to listen to.
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