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Triathalon: Savannah group's latest album brings a more mellow sound

  • Photo by Adriana Iris Boatwright

Triathalon: Savannah group's latest album brings a more mellow sound

03 Mar 2016

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Triathalon is only a few months past releasing their second full-length album, “Nothing Bothers Me,” but already they’re looking ahead. The band plans to hit the studio to record a new EP almost immediately following their appearance at Savannah Stopover.

It’s that kind of energy that fuels the band, pushing them to create and innovate, even as their sound moves in a mellower direction.

“Back when we first started, we were listening to a lot of surfy stuff,” says Adam Intrator, one of the band’s founding members. “Now, after all this time, we’re getting into more of an R&B kind of movement, listening to a lot of D’Angelo and Sade. We’ve grown out of this surf sound, and we’re trying to channel it into something more jazzy and complicated.”

The sound of the surf hasn’t left their music entirely. On “Nothing Bothers Me,” it still serves as the foundation for tracks like “It’s You” and “I Don’t Know.” But even in these, new influences are seeping. R&B, as Intrator noted, but also post-punk and grunge. Triathalon takes simple surf music and both builds off and subverts its tropes.

“Chill Out,” the album’s fifth track, seems to deliberately defy genre. The opening bass line could have come from an early alternative song. Sustained synth notes paste an ethereal air over that. The electric guitar’s modulation pulls it just barely out of tune.

At this point, it resemebles the Pixies more than anything — at least, the Pixies playing a show in front of a Pacific sunset. And somehow, that sound blends well with everything else on the album.

Overall, Triathalon’s sound is most comparable to Beach House or Broken Bells; the former for their ambient quality, the latter for their Motown influence.

“We wanted to make it a really weird record,” Intrator said.

Compared to their first album, “Lo-Tide,” that might be the case. “Lo-Tide” is a mix of house-party-ready pop tunes and garage rock, the kind of album you could put on as soon as company arrives and let play through to the end.

“Nothing Bothers Me” is “weird,” then, if only for its understatement. In addition to “Chill Out,” tracks have such relaxed titles as “Mellow Moves” and “Take It Easy.” The tempo picks up now and again, but the overall effect is one of kicking back.

While neither the individual songs nor the album as a whole reaches an emotional climax, the music simmers, releasing energy constantly over time. That kind of forward motion is a lot harder to pull off than hooky pop songs with a verse-chorus-bridge construction.

Triathalon, which also includes Hunter Jayne and Chad Chilton, hopes innovation is something the audience will appreciate.

“I’ve gotten a chance to talk to people who’ve listened to our music about how it makes them feel, and it’s always really different and really positive. If that keeps happening, it’s really cool,” Instrator says.

“Cool” isn’t a genre of music, but for a band like Triathalon, one that can’t be pigeonholed, it might be the best word to describe them.

Triathalon plays Stopover at 11 p.m. March 12 at Wild Wing Cafe.