TriathalonCold Shower
14 November 2016
Vinyl / Cassette / CD / Digital

What makes Savannah, GA’s Triathalon so curious is not where they fit musically—a lazy listener might lump their billowing lava lamp jams with murmuring shoegaze bands, though “indie rock” feels like the only box broad enough to contain their complexities. Rather, their curiosity is derived from the fact that they don’t easily fit anywhere, seemingly by design. In fact, as soon as listeners become accustomed to the band’s latest stylistic shift, Triathalon pivots in yet another challenging direction, daring its audience to keep up.

Case in point: On the band’s latest EP, called Cold Shower, Triathalon takes a left turn away from their dilating, oscillating indie rock and toward, well, seductive R&B. This is no metaphor. The most prominent aspects of opening track “South Side” are the strict, spare drum beat and the dripping bass behind it. The rest of the instruments—the piano trickling on the fringes, the guitar that droops between each beat, singer Adam Intrator’s hushed falsetto—serve as mere adornments, setting the mood like scented candles and strewn rose petals. Simply put, “South Side” could be the bedroom soundtrack to a humid summer night. Other songs are more literal. On “Come Thru,” Intrator sings, “With the lights down low / I don’t even want to go home / I just want to help you get out of those clothes / I just want to get these thoughts out of my soul.”

But then there’s the album’s title, Cold Shower, with all its mood-killing connotations. Suddenly, a song like “I Want It,” with melodic licks straight from an R. Kelly song, seems delivered with a wink. And, suddenly, a song “Smooth Move,” with its lines sweet-talked as if into a lover’s ear, seems almost ironic. Suddenly, this collection sultry songs—and they are sultry, combining R&B’s libido with a whirring, wavering aura—is as much a soulful, sexy record as it is about soulful, sexy records.

The stylistic shift doesn’t seem that startling. In fact, a quick listen to the previous LP Nothing Bothers Me reveals a band who was already decelerating, already softening, already focusing their songs more on feel than sound. What seems startling is how easily a listener who appreciates Triathalon’s dizzier, dazed output—and who doesn’t necessarily dig R&B—will find themselves swaying to these slow beats, lapping at these lyrics, and wondering where they can pick up enough rose petals to fill a bed.