The black and white images that make up the photo collage on the cover of Trust Punk’s latest album, Double Bind, are eerily reminiscent of the abandoned nuclear testing site featured in the 1993 thriller Kalifornia. The buzzing, hallucinatory synths and hissing static that open the record underline the appropriateness of the creepy, bleak art which features arbitrary mannequins and crumbling suburban interiors. The Auckland, New Zealand quintet’s sound is an absolute throwback to late 1970’s post-punk acts, so much so that you could play any one of the songs on Double Bind for a fan of the genre and easily convince them that they were listening to a recently unearthed, short-lived, obscure European act from that era.
Double Bind is a challenging listen, to say the least. Heck, the record’s title track is a minute and a half echoey, minimalist Erik Satie-esque piano piece. Aside from the fast-paced, catchy “Good Luck With That”, which appears at the record’s front, and the uncharacteristically optimistic “Bank Of God”, which appears at the record’s end, there are few moments of hope and buoyancy amongst the songs in between. That the boys in Trust Punks were able to collectively agree to hone a tonal narrative that cleverly bookends an album otherwise filled with moments of darkly angular, atonal guitar interplay, experimental dissonance, and tricky, shifting rhythms is remarkable.
Casual listeners expecting songs that lean more toward the “rock” side of punk rock based on the group’s moniker would be advised to perhaps start with Double Bind’s more accessible offerings before deciding whether to venture deeper. On the other hand, veteran enthusiasts of the post-punk and no wave genres, in particular acts from the late 1970s and early 1980s, will definitely be rewarded upon multiple listens to this complicated, layered, and surprisingly sophisticated release.