In 2012 synths are like opinions. Everyone has one, everyone is very loudly expressing that fact, but few are particularly welcome. Blame Canada. They’ve certainly been profligate in their production of ‘bands who like Korgs’, and Trust add to those already swollen ranks.
Based in Toronto, they formed in 2009 when Robert Alfons and Austra drummer Maya Postepski began to work together. TR/ST is their debut and it’s already been out on the other side of the Atlantic since February. In that time Postepski’s other commitments have forced her departure, leaving Alfons on his own.
While familiarity has meant the defences are up when presented with yet another synthpop act, it does mean that when something scales the walls it’s all the more impressive. TR/ST does. There are elements which reflect some of their compatriots, but there’s more than enough personality on display to make it stand out.
Not least Alfons’ voice. A voice unlike many others. A voice with moments of Lou Reed-like detachment, moments of David Bowie-like theatricality and moments where he just sounds like a Speak & Spell. A really sultry Speak & Spell though, the kind of Speak & Spell that doesn’t generally want for company. While the voice does have a large part (oo-er) to play in making TR/ST an immensely sexy record – and to be fair Alfons’ lugubrious phrasing would probably leave you feeling all-a-quiver if he was doing Agadoo – the swirling, hypnotic rush that is created from the electronic bedevilment reinforces the woozy feeling of lust which settles over the album.
There’s also an elegant, dark moodiness that immediately grabs your attention. The opening Shrooms is heavy with portentous reverberation, weirdly echoing of Interpol‘s Obstacle 1 and (less surprisingly) Depeche Mode‘s Enjoy The Silence. It’s a superb entrance for the record, particularly for those expecting TR/ST to all be of a similar tone to the single (Dressed For Space).
That pointed squarely, if melodramatically, at the dancefloor – It’s A Sin in boots of shiny, shiny leather – and while there are plenty of moments where you find your hands being inexplicably drawn into the air (the filthy squelch of Bulbform; the robotic industrial precision of This Ready Fresh), a lot of it is more introverted than hedonistic. Candy Walls is the best example, slow to the point of being tranquilized, heavy with desperate longing and wonderfully dreamy.
One of the most interesting variations on a theme oft heard this year, TR/ST is a hell of a debut. It’s also a reminder that as ubiquitous as they may become, there’s plenty of life in the old synth yet.