Los Angeles-based duo Merritt Graves and Skylar Funk sure have the “social” part of their name down pat: on their debut EP, they managed to bring in Death Cab for Cutie’s Jason McGerr to play on drums. That’s a pretty commendable name to bring into what is essentially a vanity release, but the members of Trapdoor Social more or less prove their mettle by writing big, soaring and anthemic songs that recall Coldplay. Opening track “Away” even features some infectious whistling. While the band certainly sounds a bit more British than Californian, the Death of a Friend EP features six songs that are cut from the same cloth, but are appealing in a rather poppy way, even though the band is hardly nailing a stake in the ground when it comes to all out originality.
Where the Death of a Friend EP falls a bit flat is in its choice of sequencing: the EP starts to really get going, and then it all ends on a dime, leaving the listener holding the bag. Perhaps the band was under-reaching, and this might have worked better with a few more songs attached and the ability to be called a proper album. And, certainly, while the group has a sound that could be described as well as being Chumbawamba-meets-Hoobastank, which is certainly beguiling and charming to a certain degree, the band seems to work solely in one mode: fist in the air rockers. Perhaps a bit more sonic diversity would do this band some favours. Still, Death of a Friend is not a bad start for a group that is involved in climate change and environmental concerns by day. When they’re not out saving the world, Trapdoor Social does a reasonably well job of kicking out the jams and rocking out.