Review Summary: A blind man told me it's better to burn out than to fade away.
Having 6 releases since their inception in 2005, Trash Talk is sure to raise some eyebrows concerning the actual quality of their material. Starting out as a mere Ceremony wannabe, subsequent releases found the band evolving towards a less aggressive sound with more focus on energy, at the loss of quality. Trash Talks recent signing to Odd Future Records has left some fans worried and for good reason. Their most recent offering 119
finds them struggling with an identity crisis.
Quick feedback and a count in begin opener track, "Eat the Cycle"
, before you are hit with what could be assumed to be the usual Trash Talk affair with vocalist Lee Spielman closing the track with "everybody's got to eat"
. While they have seemingly returned to their more aggressive roots after the more punk sounding Awake
EP, it is apparent something is off. Lacking a professional behind the monitor, the album is entirely self-produced, and it shows. Previous offerings Awake
and Eyes & Nines
found the band with crisp production, and while it may have been a bit too overproduced for the style, it didn't cause quite the problems that the weaker production of 119
has. You will find the album has awful muddy tones, strange speaker placement and volume of the vocals, excessive double tracking, and just comes together to form a general wall of noise. 119
is off to a poor start.
It is quite obvious that vocalist Lee Spielman is not his usual self and he really doesn't sound up to the task. You will find many of his vocal lines incredibly strained and double tracked to hell to make up for his lack of punch. There is an odd use of reverb that lifts him and backing bassist/vocalist Spencer Pollard strangely in the mix and is rather distracting. Lyrically, Spielman doesn't touch on any new ground that hasn't been heard in punk before. He occasionally finds some interesting lyrics such as "You don't wanna see the things I've seen, I'm surrounded by liars and thieves and they're just like me"
and he screams "Can't eat, can't drink. My head is spinning. My stomach feasts on itself, how ***ing fitting."
from first single "F.E.B.N."
with strong conviction. Garrett Stevenson's guitar work has lost much of its bite with the weaker production and you will often find him recycling riffs from their earlier records. Pollard's bass and drummer Sam Bosson fair slightly better than the guitar and vocals. Pollard has the dirtiest and heaviest tone on any Trash Talk release yet and has become quite a commanding vocalist. Bosson has never been one to write home about, so he fills his spot on the drums quite perfectly without any disappointment.
While half of the tracks don't even top the minute and a half mark, you will find yourself often questioning how such short tracks could feel so long. The answer is simple. The band does absolutely nothing to differentiate themselves from any number of generic hardcore bands by having absolutely bland instrumentation. Trash Talk has never been a remarkable band, but each album had it's share of memorable moments whether it be the chorus to "Explode"
, the slow build up of "Revelation"
, or telling the listener how pure ***ing evil
they are. You'd find yourself coming back to those tracks for those few instances of brilliance. The strongest tracks here hardly find themselves competing with the weakest tracks found on earlier releases, with the exception of "Thanks, but No Thanks"
, "Bad Habits"
and heavy closer "Dogman"
Eyes & Nines
showed Trash Talk meddling the waters with a more doom influenced track, "Hash Wednesday"
, and 119
finds them revisiting that to a degree, with mixed results. "Blossom & Burn"
, the longest track on the album clocking in at a whopping 2:31, is certainly the slowest song and also features rapping from Hodgy Beats and Tyler, the Creater of Odd Future
fame. While the rapping might feel slightly out of place, both MCs voices surprisingly don't. An interesting collaboration that probably seemed like a better idea in theory than it was in execution, due to irredeemably poor lyrics, horribly cheesy instrumentation and an absolutely laughable vocal delivery beginning with "Eenie meenie miney mo, got a ***ing problem". Second longest track and closer, "Dogman"
, is the other sludgy track here and is arguably one of the best tracks on the album. Featuring guitar work more akin to their self titled era and aggressive vocals, the song ends the album on an actual high note with a vicious vocal performance from Pollard.
finds the band struggling with their sound yet again and it likely has something to do with the recent signing to Odd Future Records. Whether an attempt to capture hip hop fans and become the next big hardcore act or maybe a band dying, most of the tracks show absolutely no potential and find the band actually regressing. With no lasting value, it's hard to determine where Trash Talk will go from here. At the rate they typically release material, we will only have to wait a year or two to see if this band truly is dead.