From the solid but blatant Thrice-Deftones worship of their first EP, the larger alternative rock moodiness of their strong debut LP, to the atmospheric and ethereal Coldplay-like pop of 2019's most excellent 'Certain Freedoms', Trade Wind are a super diverse and artistic entity. You don't get the same record twice from this band. Each new record is something different, and each member brings something to the table on whatever new sound they're exploring. And I love that!
Once again, they develop further with their touching third record, the evocatively titled 'The Day We Got What We Deserved.' Donned with one of my favourite artworks of 2021, one of the dead-game and hunting pieces by 17th-century painter Jan Weenix, this is a minimal, less-is-more, and mostly acoustic lo-fi experience from its leading men, Stick To Your Guns' Jesse Barnett and Stray From The Path's Tom Williams. The lineup's robust four-piece dynamic is rounded out by bassist Randy LeBeouf of Graphic Nature Audio and ex-Structures drummer, Andrew McEnaney.
What's great about 'The Day We Got What We Deserved', other than its dreamy wide-screen presentation, is what I'd call its "quiet-loudness." It's mastered hotly but there aren't any massive crescendos or alt-rock parts roaring loudly. Yet that doesn't stop the sub-heavy 808s, trippy beats, Andrew's snappy drumming, Randy's prominent bass work or Tom's dry strums from landing with force. Everything is written and performed with such extreme restraint that it's likely some will find it to be an uneventful listen. A myopic way to view music and couldn't be further from the truth regarding Trade Wind's latest. As its approach is purposefully understated, bursting at the seams with finer sonic details the closer you look into these ten compositions. They've taken the mood of the more subdued songs off their previous LP - 'Moon Shot' or 'Beige' - and followed that mindset onto its next logically subtle step. Resulting in a record bearing a lovely, heartfelt soul that has its own energy.
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Another thing I love is the interchangeable nature of its thematic and (sometimes) lyrical vagueness. An ambiguity that elevates the record, rather than inhibits it. Where one can supplement in either deeply personal sentiments, relationship philosophies, or even some socio-political commentary into these ten songs. This perspective doesn't apply to every track; the third entry in the band's 'Untitled' series and 'Weather Eyes' don't allow such a reading. But for something like the heavenly opener 'Burning the Iron Age,' it most certainly can work! Jesse's softly-sung lines of debts coming due, justice being served and a day of judgement arriving is a multi-faceted metaphor for our own personal and romantic relationships playing out, and the doom of a society with its head in the sand about a great many issues of climate change, social justice, equality, rising extremism, and economic disparity.
'DIE! DIE! DIE!' is the sort of acoustic-driven "normie" indie stuff that became an omnipresent musical force in the last decade by the likes of Bon Iver, but through Trade Wind, there's a darker tonal undercurrent at play, addressing how we all reap what we sow. (Fun fact: Jesse sings the word 'die' 21 times.) 'Bishop' shows how far Trade Wind have come with their arrangements; booming muffled percussion moves under glittering keys and random noisy scratches as Jesse's vocals pull back the curtain on what sounds like a very toxic relationship that was doomed to fail. 'Blue Notes' proves Trade Wind aren't content to just play slow and simple, getting jazzy with this new sound as Jesse lyrically alludes to songs and artists he loved in his youth with every new line.
While 'Fade On You' has an annoying, basic-ass synth throughout, the rest of it pulls you into an unsettling and remorseful world. The same can be said of 'Don't Rush,' one of my personal picks, sans the irritating synth. Closer 'Walk Me In // Plant Me In Your Garden' is broken up into two such sections, easily the darkest and most-telling piece about the kind of corrupted love that inspired this album. The first section wisps up from ambient pianos with the instrumentation and songwriting cues the band have spent most of this record sitting on, before the track locks into the same repeating beat, edited vocals and progressions as it slowly fizzles out. Like something that you plant in your back garden only to forget about it in time and let it slowly wither and die.
Five years ago, 'Untitled' was a love letter to an ex about how they made everything disappear. Two years ago, 'Untitled II' was a grimly honest look at moving on from another person. Here, 'Untitled III' is a fragile piece, acting as another look at these complex emotions, Jesse seemingly having written these longing-for lyrics while on a flight: "Though I wish this would end. My only qualm with this plane going down. Is never seeing you again." I don't think anything sums up the romantic nature of 'Weather Eyes' better than its music video. In which the frontman goes out of his comfort zone and learns a dance routine from a professional dancer, awkwardly trying to catch up and learn the dance, before eventually falling in sync with her. A neat little metaphor for a relationship panning out and being in loving awe of the person you're with, set to a gorgeous instrumental with some tasteful saxophone riffs.
'The Day We Got What We Deserved' is a reminder that just because you play or love hardcore music doesn't mean that's the only music you can enjoy or create. That your artistic visions shouldn't be contained by what other works you've created. I think for a lot of people, myself included, knowing who Trade Wind are and where they come from, makes this record's delicate intimacy more palpable. I honestly don't think I would've liked it quite as much if it was from a newer unknown act. Light-years away from the mosh-calls, chugs and breakdowns of Stick To Your Guns and Stray From The Path, Trade Wind find their own sense of power under waves of inviting vocals, dreamy melodies, and trip-hop beats; Coldplay, Radiohead, Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra and Foxing lovers will be comfortably at home on this gorgeous record. While it can be somewhat one-note in terms of its low-key tone and obsession with lo-fi filters, an album that would've maybe benefited from some added dynamic peaks and extra section changes, 'The Day We Got What We Deserved' is a serene experience that I highly recommend.
Burning the Iron Age
DIE! DIE! DIE!
Fade On You
Walk Me In // Plant Me In Your Garden