Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Sex Change

Posted By on Wed, Feb 28, 2007 at 12:00 AM

Washington, D.C., instrumentalists Trans Am have made a career out of being Kraftwerk-obsessed indie rockers who, instead of disco-ing out their rock urges, rock out their disco urges. The trio has always drawn on New Order as much as ZZ Top or even the spazzy soundtracks of Atari 2600 games. But on Sex Change, they sound amazed and renewed — the smirky hipster irony is history, replaced with a sense of wonder about the possibilities of synthesizer-based rock. There are jams that recall the pulse of Led Zeppelin on "In Through the Out Door," or Pink Floyd's "Run Like Hell," but Trans Am drifts just as easily toward quiet unions of synthesizer sustain and whale-call slide guitar. The latter approach sounds freshest. "First Words" and "North East Rising Sun" have an early feel — early in the morning, but also early in the recording process, before things get too clever. They also embody that awe over synths themselves that Trans Am seemed to lose over the last few records. Still, when the trio tries to rock out too hard, it can sound more clever than good. Remember, this is instrumental, synth-based happy rock, so one man's "Run Like Hell" can just as easily be another man's "Miami Vice Theme." And anyway, Brooklyn's Ratatatat is already the heavier rock version of Air. But even when Sex Change is flawed, Trans Am still sounds renewed. Or even transformed.

Hobey Echlin writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to


We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Detroit Metro Times works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Detroit and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Detroit's true free press free.

More by Hobey Echlin

Read the Digital Print Issue

February 24, 2021

View more issues


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In Detroit

© 2021 Detroit Metro Times - Contact Us

Website powered by Foundation