Photo by Dong Liu
It’s unsurprising that after Men I Trust’s announcement of their second show in London, tickets sold out almost too quickly. The rising indie fame of this Montreal-based trio has their incredible dreampop sonics, as well as their impressive output in recent years, to thank for their current popularity. Formed in 2014, the band was initially composed of high school friends Dragos Chiriac and Jessy Caron, who were later joined by Emmanuelle Proulx as the lead singer.
Since the release of their hit album, Oncle Jazz, in 2019, they have attracted many new listeners who have developed a penchant for their ethereal production. With concerts and live music suspended due to the pandemic, the band fed their hungry listeners with a live album, Forever Live Sessions, in 2020, which was intimately recorded and filmed in a garage. It was amidst the global lockdown that the band wrote most freely. In the summer of 2021, they surprised their fans with a fourth album, fittingly titled Untourable Album. Relievingly, Men I Trust’s new music has at last become tourable, the band having released updated European tour dates for May and October 2022 earlier this year.
The definition of dreampop, a progressive subgenre of alternative rock, almost seems to evolve with the growth of the band itself. As atmospheric as ever, Untourable Album is a distinct progression from Men I Trust’s previous releases. The vocals are blended ever more seamlessly into the heavy synths. As they subdue their pop melodies and dim the instruments’ acoustic sounds, the experimental layers and mythical lyrics unique to Men I Trust step into the limelight.
As soon as the door of Electric Brixton opened on the 21st of May, their second night in London, the standing area was filled with enthusiastic fans. The trio made their anticipated appearance: Emma with her plaid blazer and red Stratocaster in the stage centre, Dragos on keys to the right, and Jessy on guitar to the left. They were completed by Cedric Martel handling the bass and Eric Maillet on drums. As blue lights illuminated the stage, the band opened up to the audience with their aesthetic single, ‘Norton Commander (All We Need)’, followed by the hypnotic disco banger, ‘Tailwhip’. The crowd swayed and sang along with Emma fervidly. ‘This country dog won’t die in the city,’ chanted the crowd as they embraced the peace of mind manifested in the song.
The performances of the ‘untourable’ were truly unforgettable, and made previously-overlooked songs from the album stand out on their own. The album’s most beloved track, ‘Sugar’, won listeners over with its warm vocals and funky bass grooves familiar to the fans. ‘It goes on and on and on / And it goes on and on and on again,’ say the simple and catchy lyrics, rendering the song another unmissable singalong. And that was just a glimpse into the stunning night; the band blew my mind as I watched Dragos sing over the vocoded vocals in ‘Oh Dove’, and again as I indulged in Jessy’s masterful guitar solos in ‘Serenade of Water’ and ‘Always Lone’. The venue perfectly gave space to the melodious, almost saxophone-like guitar tone. Most striking were the tranquil lights that were cast across the stage during ‘Tree Among Shrubs’: dark green hues outlined Men I Trust’s silhouettes, vividly capturing the nomadic image of ‘From mellow seas / To houses on wheels / To slabs in West lands’.
The night was made special when Emma congratulated a newly-wed couple at the show. The affection between the audience and the band was distinctly felt in their exchange, where Emma commented on how lovely it was to see the audience’s faces and responded to their own love confessions with ‘I love you, too’. Just before the encore, the band sent sparks through the crowd again with their song, ‘Seven’, which Emma called ‘a good one’––and it was. The night ended exuberantly with the band’s most upbeat single, ‘Say, Can You Hear’, following another all-time favourite, ‘Show Me How’.
Electric Brixton was not the venue which I would have imagined to see Men I Trust perform their rather laidback songs in. Yet, only such a venue could accommodate the inexorable passion that the crowd offered. Mellow and infectious, Men I Trust hit the sweet spot with their appearance in London. The set of nineteen songs that they performed felt only too short—but now that I know how the album sounds live, my experience of listening to Untourable Album through my headphones has become a fresher and richer one.
Edited by Talia Andrea, Music Editor