The second album from local synthpop outfit Trust is simultaneously very good and not quite good enough.
Joyland, the new album by Toronto synthpop act Trust, is a really good record. It’s just not as good as we wanted it to be.
Trust isn’t the same band that released its critically acclaimed debut, TRST, in 2012: what was once a duo is now a one-man band, as Maya Postepski left to focus full time on her work in Austra, leaving Robert Alfons to carry the flag all by himself.
When a band loses a member, especially one who represented 50 percent of its total membership, it’s important for it to come back strong. Joyland has a lot of strengths, but also some wobbly parts.
The problem is that it’s a bit of a slow starter. “Slightly Floating,” the ethereal, creepy, slow-building intro track, is fine, but it’s followed by the gothic dance pop of “Gereyon.” There’s nothing wrong with “Gereyon”; it’s catchy and you can dance to it. It’s just not particularly interesting—it feels like something you could have heard at a goth bar circa the turn of the millennium. The next track, “Capitol,” has Alfons sounding uncannily like Diamond Rings, which is also fine, unless you’re trying to create an identity for yourself as an artist.
Thankfully, things start to get much better from there. The title track is an uncharacteristically cheerful chunk of dance pop that sounds oddly like a collaboration between Robyn and Peter Murphy. “Are We Arc?” is simultaneously warm and beautiful, and just a little melancholy. The synths layer on top of each other until they become a virtual orchestra, and Alfons’ weirdly froggy voice somehow becomes kind of sexy.
The rest of the album gets progressively dancier without getting generic. “Four Gut” is basically a Detroit techno song. “Lost Souls/Eelings” and “Peer Pressure” are house music tinged with gloom and decorated with Alfons’ gritty vocals.
Overall, Joyland is an album that is worthy of repeat listens, and will undoubtedly fill dance floors at clubs and bars of all kinds. You can’t ask much more of an album than that—yet we still feel like it could have been just a little bit more.