T.S.O.L.

The Trigger Complex

Written by: PP on 06/11/2017 22:38:07

Gotta say, did not expect a band like T.S.O.L. on Rise Records. Although the label has been expanding their reach significantly in recent years outside of their compressed metalcore origins, it still feels unusual for one of the hardcore punk originals, True Sounds Of Liberty a.k.a. T.S.O.L. to appear on the roster, who released their first record when the Rise founder Craig Ericson was still a child. Formed in 1978, the group has become notorious for experimenting with their sound to an extent that nearly none of their albums sound the same, save for their early 80s work. They even went through a glam/hard rock phase at one point, and for their tenth album "The Trigger Complex", their first new album in eight years and only their second since 2003, they've discovered yet another phase: Hüsker Dü worship.

If you've heard a recent Bob Mould (Hüsker Dü guitarist/vocalist) record, "The Trigger Complex" will sound nicely familiar. It's one of those records that oozes sheer joy of playing music, as songs like "Strange World" or "Sometimes" so vividly display. The songs are bright, emotionally-charged, joyous, and carry a vibrant sense of buzz that feels both uplifting and gorgeous, while retaining a nice blend of alternative rock and punk. You'll recognize a similar spirited expression as on Superchunk or The Hold Steady records, where the sheer melodic ring of the guitars and smoky vocal style will also find fans in the Beach Slang and/or The Replacement camp. Just check "Nothing Ever Lasts" for an example.

With such a bright, enjoyable expression, this record is already hard not to like. But then the band up the stakes with brilliant cuts like "The Right Side" and "Satellites", both featuring unforgettable melodies that have a special amount detail in just the right places to result in an awe-inspiring explosion of melody and sing-along godhood. If only the whole record was like that, we'd be dealing with a masterpiece.

Unfortunately, only about half the record is that. After the first five or six great cuts, the quality of song becomes inconsistent. The record veers too far into an 80s darkwave influenced style of horror punk/alternative rock - see "Wild Life" and "You're Still The Same" - which are decent songs but nowhere near the bangers mentioned earlier in this review. The result is a record that probably should have been three songs shorted to retain excellence. For now, it's still surprisingly solid for a band that has almost four decades underneath their belt.

Download: Sometimes, Strange World, The Right Side, Satellites, Going Steady
For the fans of: Bob Mould, Hüsker Dü, Superchunk, The Replacements
Listen: Facebook

Release date 27.01.2017
Rise Records

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