By Juliana Cohen
Toronto’s Robert Alfons has resurrected the future of goth as an aesthetic with his sophomore album “Joyland,” released on March 4 through the label Arts & Crafts.
The follow-up to 2012’s synthpop epic LP “TRST” forges a more sincere emulation of “emotional darkness” instead of “superficiality,” according to Consequence of Sound’s Zander Porter; its open wounds represent “subjective inexactness and uncertainty of meaning.”
Alfons was formerly aided by Maya Postepski, who left the duo shortly after the first album was released to refocus her energy on her band Austra, a breakout new-wave band of “I Don’t Care (I’m a Man)” fame. While the lack of collective spirit has subsided, Alfons has used his increased influence to produce an honestly dark sound. Heavy synth permeates confessions of despair in ways too catchy to imagine previously—the possibilities of gratuitous strobe lighting excite any rave-goer’s vices.
And at times, Trust sounds similar to the score of an indie arcade game, fit for the playlist of a laser tag center.
As the name suggests, the new album, “Joyland,” exhibits a far more positive vibe than previously hinted at in the Trust discography. The single “Capitol” borrows optimistic tendencies from the happier tracks of Phantogram while maintaining the anthemic qualities of a band crafted for a concert hall, or at least one with underground qualities. This still feels gritty, though, which is important in the age of the Cheerios sellout.
Bob your head to the beat, and knock the painful memories of an ex-boyfriend while feeling the most relevant vibes! It is okay to revisit witch house in 2014, harking back to the glory days of Crystal Castles, an experimental group that also hails from Toronto. Instead of waiting for the drop, the feeling of sadness permeates from start to finish in songs like “Slightly Floating” and “Are We Arc?”
In the absence of former member Postepski, Alfons plays with both masculine and feminine vocal affectations, shifting between deep baritone and falsetto so seamlessly that it is easy to make the mistake of thinking there are two people singing. Everyone can dance to these beats whether they are smiling, crying or something in between.
Hopefully, this iteration of ’80s-revival can create a new culture of people willing to gently nod their heads as a positive gesture toward compassion, perhaps at their upcoming European show dates. The loops on this record enrich a background while creating a more dynamic foreground, signaling the rise of a more dynamic EDM movement.
Admittedly, finding Trust on the Internet can be difficult—asking Google for results pertaining, to “Trust (band)” will reveal a ’70s heavy metal group from France, an Argentinian all-female straight edge outfit and a rock duo from Copenhagen. If that already didn’t make Alfons hard to reach, some of his animalistic screeching might alienate potential listeners.
In a press release, “Joyland” was described as an “eruption of guts, eels and joy,” a testament to its weirdness.