From it’s title (translating from Latin as “love conquers all”) to the musical and lyrical content, ‘Amor Vincit Omnia’, the debut EP from Cork trio Trans World Star is a perplexing release. Lasting just twelve minutes and three tracks, the listeners are treated to the utmost simplicity with regard to songwriting and arrangement to such an extent that one may stop and wonder if what they’ve just heard was all they were supposed to hear.
The EP opens with the at first attractive chorused guitars of “Gecko”, an effect that remains at a constant from beginning to end of the project. The song makes use of a simple and somewhat effective three-chord structure with an ABBB rhyme scheme throughout, the first line of each verse used as an opportunity to remind us that the singer is “a gecko”, and again during the chorus. The vocals aren’t the most pleasing to the ears, either. Two voices sing in tandem; one high pitched and nasal, the other in a hushed baritone, almost spoken, each separated in pitch by a mere octave, never deviating from this formula for harmonic variation. This carries on into second track “Stars”, on which the vocal melody is derived directly from the bassline that remains unchanged for the whole three and a half minutes. There are brief bursts of funky guitar scratches to keep listeners hooked, and some variations in lead patterns but ultimately they all derive from the one groove. The production does little to aid the EP, the songs seem bare; the drums, tinny and brittle.
Closing and longest track “Penn Station” showcases Trans World Star’s more interesting side, the band add samples of moving trains to each end of the track and time is taken to add a second layer of guitars, juxtaposing spiraling, reverberated harmonics with a straightforward guitar riff. The lyrics are recited like a Beat generation poem rather than sung; the cold, calculated drums carring the song.
All in all, ‘Amor Vincit Omnia’ gets by on straighforwardness and occasional truly engaging moments for the listener, but for the most part is a baffling debut that leaves one expecting more.