by Marianne Dowling
PEI pop quartet Two Hours Traffic offers a more energetic, edgier sound this time around with the release of their new self-titled album.
While their first CD, The April Storm, was rooted in melancholy, acoustic guitars, this latest album is full of punchy rock beats, sharp hooks and at times—even cryptic lyrics.
Liam Corcoran (vocals/guitars,) Alec O’Hanley (guitars/piano/vocals,) Andrew MacDonald (bass) and Derek Ellis (drums) say there were a number of factors that influenced the musical departure.
“The last album, we were listening to a lot of Beck’s Sea Change and Hayden—and now we’re getting into listening to rockier stuff like The Clash, The Pixies, and stuff like that,” says O’Hanley.
New tracks like “Mr. Saturday” feature darker moments with Corcoran growling “I need my faith in you to last/I’m living my life in glass-” some of the album’s most vulnerable lyrics.
But Corcoran laughs when asked what Mr. Saturday is about and plays down the song’s unsettling mood.
“It’s not specifically about one event or anything. After you write a song, you can relate it to a million different things. It’s good that it can be interpreted a lot of different ways,” says Corcoran.
O’Hanley points out another reason for some of the sad sentiment.
“A lot of the songs were written when either me or Liam had long distance girlfriends, so that’s kind of a theme that runs through it.”
That’s not to say the album is all tears—in fact the band says most of the new tracks are more fun to play than anything else they have written.
“I think it’s catchier and easier to sing along with,” says MacDonald. “It gets people moving a bit more.”
“We were happy with our first CD, but it was sometimes harder to get an energetic live show out of the earlier songs. There is a lot more energy in this new album,” says Corcoran.
The person Two Hours Traffic says was most influential to their recording process was their producer and Halifax rocker Joel Plaskett. The band first caught Plaskett’s attention after he listened to their song “Think More Often Than I Should” off The April Storm.
He liked it so much he offered to help them record their new songs. Over the year it took to record, Plaskett stressed the importance of keeping their pop songs short and sweet.
“He made us focus on the right things,” says Ellis.
“Joel helped us a lot with song structure and making songs more precise and I think we kind of learned a lot from that. The songs are stronger,” says MacDonald.
Plaskett says he is proud of the finished product and when he listens to Two Hours Traffic, he hears something special that reminds him of why he got into the music business in the first place.
“The simplicity of some of their tunes was really refreshing and reminded me of what cool pop music is. Their songs aren’t self indulgent and they always put melody and words first,” says Plaskett.