Traps, the third full length by Milwaukee, WI’s Jaill, is a Trojan horse of an album. Their brand of damaged rock lures you in with its slacker charm and sunny melodies, but upon repeat listens it reveals itself to actually be a bitter breakup album. Jaill’s harmonies and rhythms provide the sugar to make the emotional medicine go down, a juxtaposition that’s Traps‘ unique appeal. It’s a party album for the brokenhearted.
“Everyone’s a bitch tonight/ I must admit that I’ve been feeling like I want to die/ It’d be all right.” Lyrics of this nature permeate every crevasse of Traps, as on “Everyone’s a Bitch”, but its skinny-tie-wearing dose of ’70s power pop allows the songs to transcend usual mopey fair and keeps them from drowning in self-loathing. The Stephen Malkmus-esue guitar gallop of “I’m Home” pairs well with Vinnie Kircher’s nasally vocal delivery as he howls, “There’s a fight to be the best.”
There is no filler on Traps. Even the tracks that divert from the bulk of the material, like a trio of primarily acoustic numbers, still work despite drifting from Jaill’s brand of shambling rock. “Horrible Things (Make Pretty Songs)”, the highlight of their mellower side, floats along with a doo-wop melody and tinges of surf rock, featuring lyrics that are summed up by the somber song title.
Jaill backloads Traps with its two highlights, rewarding the the patient listener. “Ten Teardrops” begins with a guitar riff made for sundown at the waterfront; the reverb-laded guitars briefly subside, giving way to the tightest melody on Traps. Keyboards bubble along with the country-fried harmony on “While You Reload” and feature a twisted vision of love in the lyrics (“We’ve been tied down to the tracks again/ And we are still holding hands”).
With Traps, Jaill lets the sun burst through an emotional dark cloud with their knack for upbeat pop melodies. This two-faced record can be jarring, but the melodies stick, as does the venom in many of the lyrics. Splitting up has never sounded so fun.
Essential Tracks: “Everyone’s a Bitch”, “Ten Teardrops”, and “While You Reload”