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The Trudy - Always Never Beautiful Forever (Miron Music)

10 January 2024

One of the great things about coming late to a great band is that, unlike newbies, they come with a back catalog to explore. So, having been truly captivated (or should that be trudy captivated) by the band’s recent works, it seemed the perfect time to dig deeper and explore their past. It’s an experience that is a little like finding a box filled with old photographs of friends – am I going to find The Trudy sporting the sonic equivalent of questionable haircuts and strange fashion choices, or have they always been as effortlessly cool as they are today?

Always Never Beautiful Forever came out in 2016, but given that it “quickly followed” ( I do like a self-deprecating band) their 2nd album, which saw the light of day in 1990, it perhaps is a broader snapshot of the band than most albums might be. But, even though the thoughts and sonic ideas here might have long roots, plenty is going on that I recognize from their recent output.

“Coming To A Town Near You,” which kicks things off, is the same deft juggling act of understated indie tones and folk textures, shimmering pop vocals, and, to take things over the finishing line, a wonderful blend of squalling, cinematic rock salvos. Lovely stuff. And as if to say, “Hey, we can rock out with the best of them,” “Rocket Heart” sees them kicking out the jams (mofo!), all abrasive rhythmic grind and swirling guitar motifs. But as always, Melissa Jo Heathcote’s vocals keep everything from sounding too bombastic and testosterone-driven, the secret sonic sauce that pulls them back from the brink, not that they aren’t smart enough to swerve the cliche and baggage of the rock world anyway.

And from here they walk deft paths between pop and rock and indie and folk. “Bucolics Anonymous” is not just the best song title I have heard in a long time but a gorgeous ebb and flow between pastoral folk and indie-rock, delicacy and drive, grace and groove. Perfect. “All Grown Up and Broken Down” is a chart-ready slice of indie, and “What Am I Going To Do Today” is a reminder of what anthemic pop should have sounded like before the record executives convinced us that all we wanted was lowest common denominator digital dirges with guest rappers, dance routines and a hyper-active Instagram account.

As I said on the way in, exploring back catalogs is like finding a box of old photographs; you never know what secrets might be revealed. But if Always Never Beautiful Forever reveals one thing, it is this. The Trudy were always the coolest kids on the sonic block.