Saturday, 20 December 2008

Record Review: Trost - Trust Me

During the sloppy last season of The Mighty Boosh, Vince and Howard find themselves in a sticky predicament. Pushed out of the ‘scene’ by a duo of imposters, the pair earnestly attempt to conjure up a new sound and, as is de rigueur these days, plump for full-on retro-revivalism. Of course, their over exuberant choice of medieval twanging bombs with the Klaxon-humping hoards but - and forgive me for eliciting meaning from this moronic show - the message is plain; even the UK’s hip-shaking fashionistas have limits.

So what will the cheekbone protruding, hair care crew make of Trost’s latest decade transcending genre-hopping excursion Trust Me?

Well, laden with kitsch, slick melodies and contour warping rhythms, the Berlin-born Annika Lin Trost’s sophomore LP could slot seamlessly between Nouvelle Vague and Miss Kitten in the collection of any self-respecting Boho wannabe. Every glacial statuette boldly attempts to balance the perilous dichotomy of substance and style, producing a record that’s razor sharp in execution and unforgiving in smoke ring puffing chic. But underpinning this iceberg exterior is one fatal flaw: It’s much too clinical to love.

Chamber-dwelling numbers like ‘Black’ and the brutal ‘Sans Ta Scie’ reject your advances with the aloofness of a monochromatic actress; wishing you away with a Ray Ban impeded glower of bass and drum while Trost’s whispered, ethereal mew suggests she’d rather be anywhere else. The songstresses sublime rotation of German, French and English does make an alluring proposition - particularly on ‘Cowboy’’s Free Association-like splurge of microdot-popping soul- yet her icy blasts over piano waltzing trinket ‘I Was Wrong’ and ‘In Diesem Raum’’s tundra of guitar rankles as nose-turned elitism.

Fathoming pastiche from austere is half the battle. ‘Neonlight Deadland’’s wobbling, vaudevillian groove swings like the enraptured fumbling of a Parisian cabaret show, while ‘Man On the Box’ portrays Trost as a snarling chanteuse trapped amidst a seductive boudoir of rotating guitar and hypnotic snake charmed rhythms. By the time album closer ‘Filled with Tear’’s string-stained toil flutters out of the speakers like a wispy Campbell/Lanegan cast off, it’s anyone’s guess whether her tongue is placed firmly in cheek or seductively in mouth. Either way, it’s tiresome listening.

By creating a stone cold mezzanine of abrasive R’n'B and self-conscious electronica, Trost’s enforced ambivalence has produced a record that’s difficult to embrace and impossible to return to. Despite fleeting moments of melodious industry, Trust Me’s only real achievement rests in disengaging listeners with overly contrived, achingly cool cuts of metallic neo-pop. The sad thing is you know the fashionistas will lap it up.

First published here