Trash Kit: Confidence

Confidence, the second LP from London trio Trash Kit, is a pointillist triumph, a million small gestures arranged with jaw-dropping exactitude. For 29-odd minutes, Rachel Aggs (also of Shopping), Electrelane‘s Ros Murray, and Halo Halo’s Rachel Horwood piece the album together, then yank it apart, contorting and complicating these songs at every opportunity. It’s 11 calamity-skirting post-punk tunes that teeter between control and chaos.

It’s been four years since Trash Kit’s self-titled debut, a rangier record of distortion-dodging guitars, skittish snares, and head-swimming harmonies. At times, the songs on Trash Kit seemed to be angling for space amidst all the snags and snarls Trash Kit threw at them. On the clearer-headed Confidence, however, the ever-hastening rhythms and countless left-turns provide the framework for the topline melodies to glide over; there’s less frenzy here, more co-mingling. A typical Trash Kit song—even the ones that barely scrape the two-minute mark—rarely winds up anywhere near where it started; “Skin”, the best of the bunch, throws out a springy riff, halfway-flips “Walk Like an Egyptian”, then suddenly doubles in speed, plunging rollercoaster-style through an anxious array of whoops and shouts. The sound of Confidence is crisp and clean, every note in place, displaying little in the way of post-production; with nothing to hide behind, navigating all these bends and pivots becomes paramount, but Trash Kit seem to take every left-turn and abrupt detour on Confidence with ease, never once having to look down at the map.

Confidence is a high-wire act, and maintaining an air of unpredictability in the midst of these tightly-wound songs might be Trash Kit’s most impressive feat. Despite the note-perfect presentation, Confidence is loose and limber; hooks seem to emerge from the corners and crevasses of these songs, seemingly forged from the friction caused by all those intersecting parts. Beyond a couple of James Chance-ian honkouts from Murray’s ex-Electrelane bandmate Verity Susman, these songs are all built from pretty much the same stuff: Aggs’ rippling, highlife-inspired fretwork, Murray’s cascading basslines, Horwood’s frayed-nerve drums, and swooping, meet-you-in-the-middle vocals from the two Rachels. But listening to Confidence is like watching three people put a puzzle back together 11 different ways: the picture changes every time, yet the pieces always seem to fit. 

Lyrically, Confidence veers from the wistful to the anxious at the same careening clip as the music; opener “Beach Babe” pines for summer, while immediate follower “Medicine” begins in “t-e-r-r-o-r.” “Teeth” bows out with “confidence, all confidence”; seconds later, there’s the shakier “Shyness”, which gets going with “you’re so shy, you should hide.” After a quick pep talk, though, “Shyness” takes a turn towards the triumphal, sliding into a major key while Aggs and Horwood gleefully shout down the naysayers. “Shyness”, like the rest of Confidence, is a testament to casting off the shackles of convention, to not letting anyone (yourself included) stand in the way of what you want.

from Album Reviews – Pitchfork