The Trusted
Love and Suicide ep
Kerry Off the Cake Records

The Trusted are an English four-piece from Southend-on-Sea, better known as Southend, a small city on the north side of the River Thames estuary.  The lads met in secondary school and bonded over a mutual appreciation of melody and atmospheric rock, something in between early millennium Brit rock and the likes of The Clash and Elvis Costello.  I hear something else, though, hints of Echo & the Bunnymen, comes through in both the lead guitar and vocals.

Dave Batchelor, Dale Holt-Mead, Fin Cunningham and Tom Cunningham are The Trusted.  They don’t tell us who plays what or does what in the band.  Are Fin and Tom Cunningham related? Cousins? Brothers? Un-related? Who knows.  Doesn’t matter.

What this is a great collection of songs, with sharp-edged guitars, thick, fluid bass, and crashing drums.  And, the vocals? Well, see above. And yet, as all good artists, The Trusted can take their influences, acknowledge them, and then create something that is their own.

And this ep is an exploration of an attempt to find one’s place in this complicated, fucked up world, explored through the emotion this brings up.  I am teaching a course on World History, prior to the year 1500.  And one thing that my students pick up on every semester is that this, the search for meaning and our place in the world, is not a new struggle.  It is one as old as humanity and social organization. My students are both comforted and terrified by this, comforted that they are not alone in their own struggles, but also terrified that humanity has been attempting to figure it out for about forever.

The ep opens with ‘The Innocent,’ a poppy, boppy, shiny blast of guitar and it is here the Ian McCulloch comparisons fit the best.  This is a song about naivety and naked ambition, that innocence.  That slides into ‘Horizontal Mind,’ which contains that prominent, fluid bass driving the song ever forward.  And ‘Horizontal Mind’ is the mirror of ‘The Innocent,’ as here the band explores a critical exploration of that innocence.  The musical shift from the upbeat straight-ahead rock of ‘The Innocent,’ to the moody, bass driven, more atmospheric sound is, of course, intentional and well-played.

The title track, ‘Love and Suicide,’ sees the lads get into existentialism.  The explain:

This track is like the collapse of all the ideas put forward across the last two songs. It’s the realisation that we are not the centre of the universe and that at some point, we’ve all got to face certain things, like death.

This is the classic appearance of self-awareness, I remember when I was a kid, Growing Pains was on TV in those days, and one day, Kirk Cameron’s character didn’t go to school because he was sick, and then he realized the world went on without him that day.  It’s not that simple or trite, of course, to come to this realization.  Nor it is a permanent state, as we are all learning this lesson over and over again in our lives.  It is both a humbling and powerful realization, no matter how many times we need to hear the message.  Musically, this is also a track that begins with that commanding bass guitar pushing the track forward.  This is the most straight-head rock songs on the ep, and calls that long history of English music from Elvis Costello on down, through those 80s bands, the Britrock of the Blur/Oasis era, and into the era of The 1975.  And yet, there is still this wicked little feeling of 80s AOR rock arising from the bass.  I love it.

We end with ‘Wild Love,’ which starts off with chiming guitars before exploding into that driving bass and crashing drums.  They call this a song about running away from the world and escaping all the misery that comes with it.  It’s a beautiful song, and evocative, of tall fields of golden grass, the cliff and the sea below it, the lead guitar slides over the track, like the Sun on that perfect day as you’re running through the field with your love.

The Trusted have made a name for themselves, they’re popular on Spotify, and they have received support from BBC 6, BBC London, and others in England.  They have played around the UK, and all the way down to Northern Italy, where, it turns out, they have a huge following.  Listening to this ep, all I can say is that those Italians have great taste in music.