From the first 30 seconds, you'd think this was Frankie Goes To Hollywood; from the last, Genesis.

In between, the Maryland trio embark on a picaresque tour of genres, stopping off at Zapp (on the talk-box buffoonery of Reevaluations), Metallica (Backlash) and Jean Michel Jarre via Kraftwerk (Night Shift). The eyebrows of anyone familiar with Trans Am will remain unlofted at this news, so accustomed have they become to the band's heroic fusion of rock tropes - savage riffs a la King Crimson (the skew-whiff synthscape of Failure is lapped by the flames of Robert Fripp's more lysergic inquiries) and superlative drumming from Sebastian Thomson - and analogue electronica undercut with slacker humour, a studio geek's fidelity to sound (guitarist Phil Manley's many production credits include Wooden Shjips) and, on the debit side, an inability to assemble a great album from beginning to end. No matter; while Volume X lacks the cohesion of their millennial diptych Futureworld (1999) and Red Line (2000), it still throbs like few 10th albums do.

Sean Guthrie

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