The Tea Party
(EMI, 1998)

After two years since the release of Transmission, The Tea Party's latest album Triptych is unveiled. It is their fifth album since their debut in 1993 and displays a definite refinement in their own eclectic style of grinding guitar rock with a Middle Eastern flavour. Employing instruments like the mandolin, harmonium, hurdy gurdy, harp guitar and the sitar in combination with rock and electronica, The Tea Party produces their own very unique sound. At times it can hint or it can scream of Middle Eastern, Celtic and Mediterranean elements in tone or style.

This album features heavier tracks like "Underground," "Great Big Lie" and "A Slight Attack," but it is composed mainly of more melodic, almost ballad-style songs. Tracks like "Samsara" and "Halcyon Days" reflect the very Middle Eastern feel of the Tea Party's second album, The Edges of Twilight.

Lead singer Jeff Martin's lyrics are beautifully emotional, drawing inspiration from Nietzsche, Baudelaire and French Symbolism as well as Edvard Munch and many others. He writes, as always, more about feeling than seeing or doing. For the full experience this album deserves to be listened through from begin to end with eyes closed and mind open.

For anyone familiar with The Tea Party's other releases, Triptych seems to be a musical cross between The Edges of Twilight and Transmission. However this album is less chaotic in its instrumentation and more refined than the former, and displays far less of the aggressiveness of the latter. If anything, the tracks on Triptych are certainly the most radio-friendly of The Tea Party's releases. One notes though, that there isn't as much of an overall feel to the album. While it is wonderful, it could easily be a continuation of earlier albums.

So far The Tea Party is doing well for itself with the release of this album. Triptych shipped platinum and their first single, "Heaven Coming Down," remained at the No. 1 position on Canadian charts for three weeks. The next single scheduled to be released is "Touch."

[ by Melinda Lau ]

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