There are a few running themes throughout The Trews’ fourth studio album, Hope & Ruin, such as redemption, heartbreak, crafty vocal arrangements, homage to CCR, roots rock, guitar distortion, familiarity, and when all neatly line up in a music row, they fair well as a soundtrack to gassing up and hitting the blacktop for an extended session of road-therapy.
Canadians Colin MacDonald, John-Angus MacDonald, Sean Dalton, and Jack Syperek find their musical strength in delivering sharp rockers with an edge of pop sense. From the onset of the kickstarter and blaring opening track, “Misery Loves Company”, Hope & Ruin is all rock anthemic, healthily touched with alt-country and blues. The Trews don’t stray far from where they’ve musically been and that’s not necessarily a bad thing; their sonic trajectory makes for a steady emotional montage of “seeing” the music as well as occasionally thrashing to it.
Some of the best moments on the album are polar opposites; see “People Of the Deer” (apparently based upon the Canadian book of the same name), possibly their noisiest song ever, and by ‘noisiest’ I mean their hardest twist of the dial towards a straight-edged rocker with prolific use of a wah-wah pedal, and the twang doesn’t diminish the vocal urgency of “Burned” especially when the guitar starts to peel off into Luther Dickinson territory. I’m not mad at them because “One By One” is solid and a delicate rhyming scheme (aka poem) set to music and a good reminder of why lyrics do matter; they help when trying to tell a fucking story. “I hate myself for being miserable; a six-day binge is bound to do it, though” isn’t necessarily a pretty mental picture, but it is a knife of honest exploration.
Grand experimentation may have been kept to a minimum on Hope & Ruin, but then why mess with a good thing?
Go see The Trews tonight at The Viper Room.