For those not in the know, Traffic Cone Wizard are the bastard offspring of Bournemouth’s very own “Gutter Rats”. Like all great bands from the first Wave of Punk who morphed into Post/Punk or Goth to keep up with current trends, some 40+ years later Traffic Cone Wizard have followed a similar path. Although the original line-up of TCW boasted different band members, the Ayriss family familiarity; alongside long-time bassist “Adam (Hamster) Harmer” has seen the fruits of their labour grow into its finest form. This nine-song collection has been a long time in the making, but sometimes the best art is made when taking one’s time. With most new or young bands attempting to recreate the Joy Division template time after time, it is refreshing to hear a band look a little further afield into their combined musical influences to create this nine-song masterpiece.

The album opens with “Hanging Tree” – sounds of wild wind set the scene before the powerful hitting of Damien Ayriss (drums) kick in, accompanied by a keys section that is right outta the Eighties. Jason Ayriss (lead vocals) then adds a solid, layered vocal over the top. One could be forgiven for being transported right back to the early/mid 80’s Post/Punk Electro era made famous by Gary Numan et al. The chorus is infectious as the mesmerising keys whirl and swirl throughout. The bridge has an almost whispered vocal, giving way to an impassioned vocal section, taking the song to its conclusion.

“Find A Solution” begins with a vocal that has a Post/Goth sound and dare I suggest on first and subsequent listens, reminds me of early Jim Kerr (Simple Minds). More swirling guitar lines and layered vocalising where the lyrics become more heartfelt around the chorus and beyond. Another intricate bridge courtesy of Jordan Ayriss, where all manner of bleeps and samples come to the fore, culminating in a sharp ending.

“Grease and Grime” has such a radio friendly vibe to it – the opening chord section is reminiscent of the Boomtown Rats “Rat Trap”, but the similarities end there. I’m also hearing hints of Elvis Costello and The Attractions in the keys! If I’m being brutally honest it’s a tad overlong and slightly over-indulgent – it could (and maybe should’ve been) a classic two minute edit…..

“Reign of Errors” goes down a completely different path with its 80’s Funk intro. The vocal veers it away slightly from that edge to a more Electro and theatrical sound. Eighties experimentation comes to mind and the early embers of the Blitz Club scene. It’s joyous, celebratory even! There are elements of Dave Greenfield of The Stranglers in the bridge and early Spandau Ballet in the vocal. Whether deliberate or purely coincidental, it sets the scene. More knob twiddling right thru’ to its conclusion with measured drum tapping and keyboard play.

“Low Life Café” once more looks at life and personal issues. Lyrically heartfelt, there’s a brutal honesty delivered through the lyrics. I guess it’s a story viewed through the eyes of the writer – either that or an imaginative mind?!

“No Secret” opens with a scratchy guitar section and a welcome return to the TCW template. More swirling keys and a constant drumbeat and layered guitar chords. The vocals remain subtle, only layering occasionally. Another solid sample-led bridge with accompanying guitars. It has a wonderful “New Wave” (Old Wave) feel running through it with a curious ending…

“All Smiles and Acid Tongue” takes on an altogether darker facade. It slowly builds as the gentle vocal layering kicks in, elevating somewhat in the chorus. The bridge is chord heavy, which is a solid distraction, differing from earlier tracks, showing another side to their experimentation. The second bridge squeals, squalls and swirls with wild abandon before a haunting departure.

“Uncomfortably Dumb” continues with a darker, Gothy sound with a nod to more experimentation and brooding vocals. It veers off in different directions throughout but always keeps one interested. Samples and loops trickle around in the background behind the vocal, reminding me of Muse at their most experimental; but the vocals are the star turn here.

Traffic Cone Wizard

“We:Are” – the title track doffs its cap heavily in the direction of “Columbia” (Oasis) – that is until the vocal makes itself known and yep, you guessed it – more experimentation! Phantasmagoria-era Damned comes to mind but the whole 80’s Electro feel is very apparent throughout.

Ok so TCW debut with an album chock full of influences from the early Eighties and beyond. Considering the various ages of the band and considering the first embers of this fledgling act were honing their craft way back in the early 00’s; this really is a stellar offering from this band. If this is just for starters, then there must be plenty in the tank for future release. With production no doubt done ‘in house’ the future surely looks bright with these four creatives. and if experimentation is where their future lies then we must look forward to the next instalment. A spot on the “Rebellion Introducing Stage” surely can’t be too far from their grasp now…..

Track listing
Hanging Tree
Find a Solution
Grease and Grime
Reign of Errors
Low Life Cafe
No Secret
All Smiles and Acid Tongue
Uncomfortably Numb

The album is out on 1st June and can be purchased for just £10 here.

Band Members
Jason Ayriss – Lead Vocals
Jordan Ayriss – Guitars/Keys/Backing Vocals
Adam (Hamster) Harmer – Bass
Damien Ayriss – Drums

Links Cone Wizard

Review by Ross A. Ferrone.

Traffic Cone Wizard