While TRST sounds instantly familiar, it’s difficult to figure out which angle it speaks to you from. The history of Trust at label Sacred Bones, a loose connection with Crystal Castles, and that hot mess bag of Robert Smith look on the cover — oh, and Maya Postepski of Austra — sets them pretty solidly in the nu-gothΔ▼‡▲†Δhauswave consciousness. But they’re just as associated with DFA club favorites like Hercules and Love Affair. This is not entirely unfamiliar territory — multifaceted noise outfit HEALTH has certainly occupied both of these camps — but the way that Trust straddles these lines is less aggressive.
Album opener “Shoom” glides from a Placebo-tinged sludge to an M83 sparkle. Some songs, most notably “Bulbform,” “The Last Dregs,” and “Gloryhole” share the haunting, hazy intensity of Crystal Castles, probably due in no small part to some mixing from their manager Mikey Apples. “Bulbform” comes closest, as if someone has reined in the adolescent desperation. Then “F.T.F.” blindsides you with simple, melancholy synth-pop that, despite this noise like a baby dragon sighing, could sit next to Cut Copy on a feel-good driving mixtape. “Sulk” is Eno-style euphoria paired with a straightforward dance beat and clean, 8-bit embellishments. Robert Alfons’s vocal range is equally, and impressively, suited to both low, rumbling industrial as it is to dreamy new wave.
Overall, the effect is just so charmingly unassuming that it’s kind of impossible to dislike, even with the trite, pseudo-nihilistic dance number “This Ready Flesh”: “You can’t believe in nothing/We believe in nothing/You can’t believe it’s nothing/We believe in nothing,” it repeats. While it may give the listener an initial eye-roll, most songs that exist primarily for dancing don’t lose points for being shallow; there’s certainly room for a jam that even hints at pandering toward intellectualism.
For the rest of the record, they’ll usually pull back right when they’re teetering toward that line. “F.T.F.” trails off in its refrain before it overstates itself: “I walk into your room/And I don’t know how to say/Don’t know how to say,” its understated, melancholy wonder fitting right along with the simple synth lines.
Trust’s until-now limited catalog has rallied enthusiasm, even inspiring a fan video by F@#ked Up‘s bassist. Most of those early glimpses (“Bulbform,” “F.T.F.,” “Candy Walls”) all found a place on TRST. This leaves their tightest, most seamless blend of their influences, the haunting new wave tune “Not A Waste of Sky,” off Todo Muere Vol. 1 (Sacred Bones’ 2011 Record Store Day compilation) out. Even without that, TRST stands out as a more than promising first effort. Queue it up and dance your goths away.