Kicking into gear with the unmistakable, energetic riff of Somebody Do Something, Trey Wonder’s 3rd full-length album emerges this April with a fine fusion of nostalgia and fresh, authentic punk-rock and grunge-kissed escapism.
Defiantly an artist who sticks to his guns, Trey once boasted in an interview that he liked to bring both humour and confusion to music, and this album successfully reignites that approach, yet it does so amidst genuinely well-structured, uniquely interesting, refreshing songwriting.
I Saw a Witch is a perfect example. Great set-up and structure, great riffs that are quickly recognisable – the song leaves its mark in a nineties alternative fashion, begging for you to lose yourself in the moment with Wonder; to replay the song until the words and changes in pace all feel familiar and exciting to anticipate.
From lyrical weirdness through uninhibited musical expression, Can’t Wait consistently keeps listeners engaged, often on their toes. Contrast is utilised brilliantly, droning moments of quiet desperation are juxtaposed by sudden passionate outbursts and increasing tempos. Always this voice and this guitar and drum sound keeps things relevant. Retro indie meets anthemic alternative rock, with lashings of artistry and performance purity in unison. From Nirvana to The Strokes, there’s plenty of yesteryear alongside even more that provokes thought and immerses in a fresh way.
The unforgettable Annie Bruiser makes an appearance, then the playlist goes on to deliver more cleverly nuanced, hard-hitting alternative choruses.
Joyfully proclaiming statements such as I look like shit but it’s not half as bad as how I’m feeling, this album is, in many ways, everything the contemporary soundtrack has been missing. Trey unabashedly expresses his deeply human sense of uncertainty, even dismay, alongside bizarrely captivating chord progressions and a raw instrumental presentation. The result is something brilliantly authentic, often lyrically fascinating, and increasingly on point.
Dressing The Corpse and Injury both prove fully absorbing in fairly incomparable ways. Then we get a pop-punk hit of colour and simple joy for No Problems – an unavoidably addictive little track that stands out for its spacious sense of optimism and purity.
The bass-led funk and fun of I May Get Wasted Tonight provides a perfectly well-placed break from lyricism. It’s an aptly-titled excuse to do precisely what’s suggested as the instrumental rains down. Later, Turning Pages is another highlight, the simple yet memorable nature of the riff and these short verse lines is immediately satisfying and prompts you to swiftly turn up the volume. There’s a gentle hint of The Offspring to this songwriting, though here things take a decidedly more personal, emotional turn.
Dead Already is similarly immersive, addictive in its progression and the sudden impact of a descending verse line followed by the utter false-optimism / acceptance and energy of the hook. A definite highlight, a personal favourite, with an unexpected switch in tempo to a melodic moment of vocal unity that’s likely to score highly at live shows. The concept intrigues, so again the song begs for you to listen over a few times. Trey’s voice meanders throughout these thoughts and feelings with varying levels of grit and contrasting calm.
A mighty bass line and superb drum work see an infectious Happy With Me bring things to a powerful, likeable finish.
As a follow-up for his previous albums, 2017’s Nice Fish and 2018’s The Ghost of My Father, this project marks a step further into complex thought and uninhibited sound-play. It also seems to highlight a clearly developed skill-set and understanding of what works in music – without letting that knowledge affect the creative freedom that stands so tall. In many ways, this feels like a greatest hits collection, or the breakthrough album loaded with anthems.