The Trusted are a newer british indie project rooted in Southend-on-Sea, whose inspirations come from a mix of modern brit-rock, dark pop, and late-70s new wave movements. While traditionally creating more punk and post-punk heavy tracks, with strong, harsher guitar tones, this time they take a break to explore the more subtle, building, emotive side of groups like the Killers and the 1975. And in doing so, they show an ability to be tame and patient, without being boring. Their new track, “Criminals,” comes after their recent EP, Love and Suicide (2020).
Based in a simplistic rhythm of plucked strings and hypnotic synth chords, the instrumentation of the track borders on minimalism, that is only stunted by the later entrances of dynamic percussion and piano. It’s the pulsating synths and understated bass that help drive the track to the sonic and emotional crescendo of the latter half. The hollow cave of sound is thus brightened slightly each time a new piece is added, almost like the slow approach of light when nearing the end of a tunnel. But in the moments where the cave is relatively empty, and unappealing, it’s the vocals and lyrics of the group that manage to fill the gaps, and move us forward.
With just the style of instrumentation alone, it’s clear the focus is solely put on the lyricist. Nothing happens to be wrong with what’s backing them, but the audience is much less likely to jam to a slow-paced electronic setting than the emotional centerpiece that it’s aiding. The vocals are understated, but I assume it’s due to the fact that they’re rooted in realism, and supposedly addressed to an unknown other. It’s as if they’re being read aloud to who they’re addressed to. Also, creating yet another underwhelming base increases the effectiveness, once again, of the crescendo effect that slowly develops. The lyrics are grounded in a general acceptance of self-disgust. The border of self-consciousness and confidence is shrouded and unclear in the idea of being a “criminal.” I couldn’t help but question whether this was good or bad, but maybe that’s intentional. The emotions present with the confused idea are both depressing and uplifting. And by the end, the long, extended vocal harmonies sound much more empowered than sad.
“Criminals” is a slightly-confusing emotional journey that’s relatable, romantic, and powerful. What it lacks in instrumental diversity and strength, it makes up for in the gorgeous delivery of the individual lyrics. It’s not surprising to find that their sound is related to that of the 1975, because it’s very reminiscent of their more docile cuts. So if you like them, indie pop, or simply electronic-aided rock music with strong personal themes, this is definitely for you.
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