Scaled back

Huh. Those seem to be tunes coming out of the speakers when Source Code & Tags is playing.

That’s not to say … And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead don’t write hook-less songs. “Mistakes & Regrets”? Great riff it’s got there.

Nah. For Trail of Dead’s major label debut, the Austin, Texas, quartet seems to have reigned in its more ambitious conceptualizing.

The songs on Source Code & Tags are more apt to follow more traditional songwriting structures — you know, verse-chorus-verse.

Sure, the band might interrupt the normal flow of things by inserting a half-tempo middle section, or by starting at one tempo, then firing off in double-time.

And yes, the two-second gaps clearly missing on Madonna are nowhere to be found on this album as well.

But those barrages of noise that come out of left field or those breaks in songs where the phrase “fuck you” is chanted over and over and over again aren’t the order of the day.

“Baudelaire” and “How Near, How Far” have actual melodies. “Relative Ways” feels like the pre-release single it was meant to be. “Another Morning Stoner” toes the line between tunefullness and grit.

Has Trail of Dead sold its soul to Interscope Records for acceptance by the populus at large? Not to worry.

“Homage” demonstrates Trail of Dead still possesses its screaming rage. “Days of Being Wild” sounds like the title implies, and “Heart Is in the Hand of the Matter” has an off-key chorus that’s totally “Mary Christ”. (Sonic Youth? Goo?)

For anyone blown away by the epic feel of Madonna, Source Code & Tags might come across as non-descript — a bunch of loud songs that don’t have much to set themselves apart.

Don’t be fooled.

Source Code & Tags is still the same Trail of Dead, just scaled back a tad, more accessible to first-timers. And if Source Code & Tags is your introduction to Trail of Dead, soak in the aural aura of the album. Then go get Madonna and sit tight.