I’m quite a big fan of Electrelane and their unusual approach and high-concept song structures, so I was pleased to discover Trash Kit’s Confidence, the latest release by Electrelane’s former bassist Ros Murray. True to form, Confidence manages to stagger between convention and eccentricity. The form of the album itself accomplishes a rare feat; it tells a complete story in assembly of the songs, without heavy-handedness or excessive artifice. The album moves from frustration and jumbled inarticulacy into growing assertiveness and, well… confidence. The record requires attention and mindfulness to be appreciated. Don’t put it on at a party, but do when you’re struggling with an idea that refuses to cohere.
The album opens with “Beach Babe”, a repetitive twang of lo-fi guitar over a marching band beat and an ass-twitching bassline. The effect is one of amicable disorientation, a breakdown of Polvo-like that just barely hangs together before the beat kicks back in and reels the listener back in. “We spent the summer waiting for summer to come, if we keep waiting we’ll be waiting for summer til it’s gone,” trills Aggs. The sensation is one of a whiskey-warmed stumble home on a chilly night – a bit aimless, a bit sad, but filled with an abiding existential satisfaction.
Moving through the album, Agg’s voice plays over the tracks like a more genteel Poly Styrene contorting herself over postpunk polyrhythms. An unexpected bleat of horn emerges, the contribution of former Electrelane member Verity Susman. “Big Feeling“ is a series of ferocious plunges that abruptly right themselves against Murray’s basslines. The influence of The Raincoats punk brashness is immediately apparent, coupled with an insubordinate danciness in the vein of underrated South Bronxers ESG.
On the tracks “Hair” and “Boredom“, the album’s struggle to give voice to itself reaches its peak. A Gordian knot of guitar wends its way throughout “Hair“, like a comb desperately trying to untangle a rat’s nest of frayed locks. The vocalizations border on glossolalia, wordless chirps and cries that reinforce the band’s unvarnished “play it all live” ethos. Boredom is a riotous tumble that often barely sounds like a song, just a mélange of themes and grooves. Despite all the clattering sturm und drang, it reveals a deeply personal struggle with overcoming obstruction, whether personal, artistic, or both.
On the last few tracks, restraint and discipline begin to emerge, giving rise to more intelligible form. There’s a moment where the guitar in “Cheshire Cat” breaks free and grows forcefully emphatic, and the lyrics themselves become more defined and less wordlessly emotive. Agg wails “I had a dream, I lost my teeth,” a symptom of anxiety, on the obviously named “Teeth“. But here the sound is less improvised, with everything gelling into recognizable shape. Maracas scratch over the surface of the final song’s opening like an obliging rattlesnake, with a warm flash of horns that return with greater assurance than the fretful blasts that appear earlier in the album. The final minute of the album is deliciously triumphant: “That’s not me,” chants Trash Kit, as though emerging from the unnamable apprehension and into the light of a new day.
Confidence is out on December 1st via Upset The Rhythm.