Trapt — No Apologies
Although California band Trapt has never recaptured the mainstream dominance it snared with its 2003 hit “Headstrong,” the group has remained a consistent presence on the airwaves with its now-familiar brand of catchy, relatable modern rock. And while familiarity can be a comfortable fit for radio, too much of it is never a good thing. For its latest album, “No Apologies,” the foursome follows up on the themes of determination and refusal to compromise it first explored on “Headstrong.” The return to previous subject matter isn’t a problem though, and for the most part, neither is the music. But the fourth album in Trapt’s catalog shows the group is content to keep recording its safe style of guy rock with few alterations, and that’s a red flag.
Trapt proved on its second album, “Someone in Control,” that when it widens its embrace to include more pop characteristics—like prettier melodies, fewer drum beats and vulnerable lyrics—its music is elevated from good to great. The approach made songs like “Lost Realist” and “My Own Design” feel fresher and, conversely, roughened its rock edges for better impact. For “No Apologies,” you get Trapt’s signature sound: an abrupt, solid guitar intro; an abating of energy at the chorus; another jolt with the six strings; a spiraling finale. Lead-off cut “Sound Off” is one track that follows that blueprint to best affect, because Robb Torres’ guitar veers into metal territory and even sounds devious at the bridge. Ditto “Overloaded” and the lightly shredding “Get Up.” Yet none of the performers (Torres, singer/guitarist Chris Taylor Brown, drummer Aaron “Monty” Montgomery and bassist Pete Charell) ever break a sweat—you don’t catch any impassioned soloing or breakneck jam sessions on a Trapt record.
“Drama Queen” and “End of My Rope” are more vehicles for Brown, where he gives his audience something everyone can sink their teeth into: griping about how someone or thing is putting him straight up the wall. Ironically, with the aforementioned tough-talking material, you’d think the title track would be a fistful of defiance. The lyrics follow through (“You don’t owe anybody anything/Life is yours to live any way you please”), although the song itself has a softer, midtempo vibe that’s meant to reassure you instead of encouraging rebellion. Still, it’s earnest enough to be enjoyable.
Since all of the songs are crafted with an ear cocked toward radio play, any one of them could find their way to rock stations, which is an advantage a lot of bands don’t have. At the same time, the music is fairly interchangeable—nothing on the album screams “hit,” and every musician could use one in these days of media oversaturation. “No Apologies” will satisfy Trapt’s diehard fans just fine, but there’s nothing here that’s going to do for the band like what “Headstrong” launched. If the quartet collaborates with songwriters or pairs with an imaginative producer to nudge its sound in a more daring direction for its next album, though, that could be another story . . .
by Christa Titus