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Torontonians: Why so gloomy? It can't all be socially awkward, generally hated, recently elected mayor Rob Ford's fault, can it? And those so-called Canadian winters are getting warmer by the minute, so stop blaming the snow. Yet, from Crystal Castles' affected poses and digitalized screeches to Austra's gothic pop and operatic maneuvers, it seems the electronic music produced in the metropolis in the past half-decade has been pulling a darker string than other Canadians cities (especially compared—just to give two paradigmatic examples—to Turbo's Montreal or Wagon Repair's Vancouver). Even Art Department's languor gives the impression it emanates from the humid, barely lit corners of an underground basement dance floor.
Newcomer Trust is the latest addition to the trend but, sadly, TRST struggles to legitimize the duo's overall revivalist, '80s-inspired attitude. Formed by Austra-affiliated Maya Postepski and frontman Robert Alfons, Trust sounds like what Salem would if they'd listen to Black Celebration-era Depeche Mode more and southern hip-hop less. After two low-profile singles on indie imprint Sacred Bones—the sulky "Candy Wall" and the sulkier "Bulbform"—the duo has now been (weirdly enough) recruited by Arts & Crafts, home of Feist and Broken Social Scene. Needless to say, they don't have the folksy appeal of the former nor the indie-by-numbers exuberance of the latter. Both tracks are more in sync with the style developed by, let's say, Zola Jesus circa her Stridulum EP, but fundamentally lack what made her so special in the first place: style.
The album's overall mood does vary: "Heaven" has a gloomy, lullaby-esque end-of-the-night feel, while "Dressed For Space," "Gloryhole" and "Chrissy E" all sport a slightly upbeat approach to electro-pop à la DAF. That said, you might as well go straight to the originals and get that Metal Dance compilation instead. And when "This Ready Flesh" displays the kind of straight-faced androgynous vocals you'd find ten years ago on secondhand electroclash semi-hits (think a black-haired W.I.T. meets Crème de Menthe), you even start to wonder if the decade-long so-called '80s revival hasn't finally outstayed its welcome.
In its specific sub-genre, it is hard to deny that Trust's music has some sort of appeal, especially in the witch house/pop noir/cold wave realm; it presses all the right buttons at the right time, and it is supported by an appropriately queer imagery. On stage, Alfons even flaunts a torturous, Ian Curtis-like presence, which is obviously a compliment. It suggests he could eventually blossom into a truly charismatic performer. Yet, at the same time, it is the very overfamiliarity with those same tropes that makes TRST an ultimately unsurprising, par for the course listen. One quarter goth chic, one quarter calculated introspection, one quarter bourgeois ennui, and one quarter "haven't I heard all this before?": You get the feeling the bored Torontonian transvestite from the album cover isn't just striking a fake pose.
Buy Trust - TRST at
Tracklist: Trust - TRST 01. Shoom
02. Dressed For Space
04. The Last Dregs
05. Candy Walls
07. This Ready Flesh
10. Chrissy E