Fingertips Flashback: Trademark (from May 2005)

I haven’t plundered the back pages for a while, so here goes, it’s a new Flashback. This one comes from six years ago to the week, and is one of those songs that in another, better world than ours would’ve been a smash hit on the radio; hearing it now should be causing all sorts of Proustian nostalgia. But, alas, most of you will probably be hearing it for the first time right now. Nostalgia will have to wait!

Trademark

“Hold That Thought” – Trademark

[from May 2, 2005]

Resplendent electro-pop from an Oxford synthesizer trio that apparently wears lab coats onstage. While drawing obvious inspiration from bands like Soft Cell, Depeche Mode, and Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, Trademark immediately announces its own presence with the opening synthesizer riff, featuring a deeper, buzzier, funkier tone than their ’80s forebears. The song swings along in a rapid 6/8 (maybe?) shuffle, and even as vocalist Oliver Horton’s blase, slightly nasal delivery recalls the likes of Neil Tennant (of the Pet Shop Boys), there’s something sturdier and more passionate going on here. Maybe because it was all new back then, and maybe there were serious technological limitations at the time, but ’80s synth-pop had a distinct air of preprogrammed relentlessness to it—as if the groups got going by pushing a button and letting the machines do the rest. Listen, by contrast, to the way the introduction here leads into the first verse: how the rhythm shifts and the three interweaving synthesizers are redefined around the vocals—how in fact they are played musically rather than electronically, even though they are, still, electronic instruments. It may sound on the surface like the ’80s but this is the ’00s we’re listening to, and a seriously wonderful new song. “Hold That Thought” can be found on Trademark’s debut CD, Trademark Want More, released in the U.K. last year on Truck Records. The MP3 is available via the band’s web site.

ADDENDUM: The band has not been extraordinarily active since 2004, but they still exist; they even have a Twitter feed. There was one more album after Want More—2007’s Raise The Stakes. The trio’s most recent release is the 2009 EP At Loch Shiel.

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