The last time Trans AM played Halifax, as a part of the Halifax Pop Explosion in 1997, they placed duct tape over the names of their keyboards and synths to the chagrin of local gear heads.
Making nerds sweat once again, they released the poorly received T.A. in 2001. The album, which featured vocals on all the songs, was a slight deviation, to say the least, for the largely instrumental Washington, DC trio. Spoofing the electro-clash/crass genre of the time, the band released tongue-in-cheek promo shots that featured the band in all-white matching clothing. Seemingly, it went over the collective heads of their target, proving once again that most people have no sense of humour when it comes to jokes about themselves.
Trans AM followed up T.A. with the well-received Liberation, a politically charged album focusing on the war in Iraq, the 2004 election and the mass paranoia sweeping the US. The album was much better received by critics and fans and seemingly heralded a return to a more classic Trans AM sound while exploring new ground. In an interview with Morphizm, Nathan Means responded to the question of whether they were happy with Liberation with “What kind of a question is that? You think we put out shitty albums just because this is our seventh record? We’re not phoning it in like Al Pacino in The Recruit. If you gave me 10 million dollars I could put out a shitty album, but not for a few thousand dollars.”
Largely considered a “safe” album, 2007’s Sex Change assuaged fans’ worries that the band was breaking off in a new direction. Because not everyone enjoys missing the point, it’s becoming increasingly harder to tell whether fans enjoy Trans AM more when they’re playing it safe or when they’re obtuse and innovative. This Friday will tell the tale.