steering clear of the mainstream
since 2001

june 2010

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info opinion


"Hotel Two-Way" CD


Genre: indie pop, alertnative

June 2006

How are these guys still under the radar? Tryst's third LP consists of eleven more precious pop tunes that coast along effortlessly pretty much from start to finish. Frontman Tim Cohan's slyly brilliant lyrics mesh perfectly with his compelling everyman voice, charming melodies and Decemberists-esque lush instrumentation. Lead guitarist Sam McIlvain offers up plenty of irresistible hooks, and Ellen Highstone's backing vocals are spot-on. All of these elements combine to create an appealing pop sound.

Hotel Two-Way is named after a "love hotel" in Tokyo that makes its money by housing, well, trysts, and unshockingly, temporary love's power to conquer all is a lyrical motif that permeates this pop nugget. Cohan's lyrics attack that subject from a myriad of sharp angles - metaphorically wishing to be Jessica Lynch's "private hero" on the acoustic opener, professing love through the boss's voicemail on "Abigail" ("Do you love me like you love your job?") and nicking lyrics from one of the lucky few poets in history who can legitimately claim to be cleverer than Cohan - William Shakespeare - on "Balthasar's Song," which spins a Much Ado About Nothing highlight into, by my troth, a pop highlight. "Alexis," with its punchy chorus, is an absurdly catchy B&S-style character sketch; "Still" somehow manages to out-bouncy and out-whimsical most of the album. But the song that rises above the rest of these peaks is the title track, a pop masterpiece that features Cohan at his cunning best. The verses flow seamlessly from what-the-hell-was-I-thinking to frankly wishing for sex to genuinely longing, tied together by a chorus that calls the Hotel Two-Way "more fun than the one-way, less fun than the three-way, her way or the highway back to old LA." Genius.

It falls off a bit toward the end, and the closing track, "Special Thing," feels like a forced effort to bring closure to the album. Its apropos lyrics affirm, just in case you weren't paying attention to the other 10 songs, that although it gets a bit tricky and/or sticky when she doesn't really care or there's another lover there, love is indeed a special thing that takes you by the heart and makes you sing (like this: la, la, la...) It comes off kind of trite, out of its element. But the lacklustre back end can't take the shine off Tryst's latest leap forward. This is a fresh-sounding album that is well worth a listen or five.


A.J. Gregory

[Vitals: 11 tracks, distributed by CD Baby, released 2005]