With 2000’s Astray, it seemed ’90s emo pioneer Samiam was moving into the next millennium with a simmering, almost dignified indie-rock sound. Then came silence—that is, until 2006’s murky, ill-conceived Get It Right, a disc that didn’t. Trips is the delinquent follow-up, only this time, the half-decade break in recording has done the group some good. Samiam’s core members, singer Jason Beebout and guitarist Sergie Loobkoff, have another fresh lineup on their hands, and Trips is accordingly energized; tight, crisp, and concise, tracks like “September Holiday” and “Free Time” stoke the punk home-fire while maintaining the fluid, moody edge the group honed 20 years ago. Beebout, now in his 40s, is still spitting out gruff, gleefully juvenile lyrics, from the petulant yet bittersweet “Clean Up The Mess” to the Beatles-esque singsong of “Happy For You.” And on the album’s five-minute mini-epic, “El Dorado,” Loobkoff ventilates the harrowing intensity with just enough atmospheric sprawl. There’s nothing here as dynamic or compelling as Samiam’s pair of near-hits, 1994’s “Capsized” and 1997’s “She Found You,” let alone its groundbreaking earlier material. But from a band that’s been wandering aimlessly for the last 10 years, Trips may be the start of a journey home.
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