by greyhoney USER (2 Reviews)
February 19th, 2016 | 0 replies

Release Date: 03/04/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: "An eruption of guts, eels and joy"...artistic, sincere and a mesmerizing journey through the cosmos of the soul

The Canadian artist Trust (also known as “TR/ST”) can be classified anywhere between Intelligent Trance Music to Dark Atmospheric Synth-Pop. Trust main-man Robert Alfons describes his first full length as a “pop record smeared with mud,” as it was heavily comprised of a more gloomy and melancholic tone. Joyland, however, manages to cover both dark and light themes with everything in between. It is also the first full-length record created solely by Alfons and it results in an extremely enjoyable, diverse and cathartic experience.

Joyland begins with “Slightly Floating”, a slow, ambient intro with a thick pulsing texture and bright wavering synths over top. It matches the spacey mood of the cover and launches the sonic adventure off in an interesting way. Next is “Geryon”, a fast-paced dance-tune with soaring synths where the main melody weaves in and out of Alfons’ low-registered spoken word verses. This leads into the emotive “Capitol”, which is one of my personal favourites. It has a catchy piano melody over thumping percussive hits. This song brings a strong feeling of euphoria, especially in the chorus where Alfons’ vocal range and talent truly shines. The ending synth sounds are reminiscent of bird calls reinforcing the feeling of weightlessness and flight. “Joyland” is a simpler, bouncier pop song where Alfons heavily uses his high-pitched singing. It is my least favourite track on the album, but is still decent none the less.

“Are We Arch” slows down the pace and really heightens the atmosphere. This song brings visions of space-capsules and astronauts hovering through planets and stars. It is another album highlight, not only in it’s chamber-like texture, but also in it’s strong emotive blooms of melancholy. Lifting the mood back up is “Icabod”, where Alfons seems to recapture his spirit. It's an upbeat track with a chorus that carries feelings of perseverance. Following this is “Four Gut” with its shimmering synth sounds and booming percussion. There’s a lot of textured rhythms in this song and the noise part that leads to the end melody is like a drug trip into the heavens, it’s magical. Continuing the quicker pace is “Rescue, Mister”, which feels very sexual and raunchy. There’s a strong rhythmic groove and Alfons rotates between his low-registered croons and high-pitched vocals effortlessly. “Lost Souls/Eelings” is a trippy twister of swirling sounds. It’s super catchy and brings forth the vision of souls turning into light, leaving the body and squirming into the cosmos. The end turns into a short atmospheric piano ballad that oozes a deep sadness and a cavernous emotional ache. “Peer Pressure” eases this ache and embraces the search for ones self. It’s a powerful song with shimmering verses and crowd-pumping choruses, as well as one of the most energetic and massive endings that will make you want to move your body so hard that it may fall apart.

Now to the final track “Barely”. This song sends the vibe that Alfons found a connection within himself and the universe. It’s probably the most emotional of all the songs, with Robert’s voice front and centre. This song captures the feeling of when rain clouds clear and warm rays of sunshine peak through. As quickly as the song picks up into a catchy, melodic dance beat it abruptly cuts out into a section of powerful spacey synths with white noise and Alfons passionately singing a wordless melody that keeps building and building. He pulls you in to his spiritual cleansing and everything he does feels completely natural and sincere. You can really feel Alfons bare his soul here, it’s truly inspiring and powerful.

Joyland is an album of highs and lows, with icy dance beats, lush textures and Alfons stretching his vocal range from the lowest registers to the highest. He has a beautiful, distinct voice and it’s powerful on this record. The actual mix of Joyland (also done by Alfons) is very solid, everything is crisp and clear. The reverb-drenched vocals have a subtle echo and blend well with the rigid percussion and silky synths. As much as I like both this the first record, I understand that this music is not for everyone. Joyland in particular took me a few listens to fully understand and get into. Overall though, I found this record to be super artistic, totally enjoyable, extremely catchy and highly emotive in all the right ways. I recommend this to anyone who isn’t afraid to open their mind to something weird, deep and eclectic.

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