Transatlantic indie-folk rock has arrived on the shores of South Wales and, while there are improvements to be made, TJ Roberts has set the standard for future bands through the release of 'Love, Loss, & Other Useless Things.'
Word by Robin Mumford of The Indie Plug
TJ Roberts is back with another project, but this time he brings new faces. Alongside bandmates, Heather, Gavin and Jasper, frontman and songwriter Tom effortlessly evokes the earworm melodies of Big Star, Twin Peaks and Wilco. Bringing summer vibes that encompass listeners into a laidback mood, 'Love, Loss, & Other Useless Things' has the potential to be the perfect backing track to a day in the sun with friends. However, it lacks raw energy and vocal strength in places.
The band have burnt the midnight oil to configure the perfect production, while the frontman's undoubted song writing talent is on display throughout the nine tracks, but his vocals are somewhat passive.
Whether it be Twin Peaks or The Beatles, every frontman has their niche, their underlying personality traits on show, or their raw edge and passion. TJ Roberts lacks this, but understandably, this is something that will come with time of the band being together and finding their musical selves.
Notwithstanding the criticism, the Americana road trip undertone 'Big Time Chances' and the mellowed 'Passed out on a Hollywood Star' are epitomes of the passive vocals being perfectly suited to a song. The Australian band 'Sticky Fingers' comes to thought when listening to these two. TJ Roberts must be credited with the bands' ability to make every song sound different to the last, with influences spreading from all areas of the world.
With the development of such a mellow album, there were, of course, going to be songs that featured passive vocals, and the two mentioned are some of the album's highlights. However, there are songs in the creation that fail to recognise the need to turn it up a notch. For example, 'Boy Without a Band' fizzles out into an exponential fade after an upbeat riff signals a higher tempo song.
What TJ Roberts has successfully conjured is an album that is an easy listen. Stemming from summery indie vibes that are present in almost every successful British band nowadays, they have added an Atlantic twist that may prove to be the foundation of a uniquely sounding showpiece in future releases.
Adding tracks with more powerful vocals that hit the listener harder would have elevated this release to a couple levels higher, but unfortunately, we will have to wait for that to come. A release that hatched in the wake of their contract with newly formed record label 'Rose Parade Recording Company' in Wales' creative capital of Cardiff, TJ Roberts has a bright future, nonetheless. ***