Men I Trust – Oncle Jazz

The Québécois trio Men I Trust are guitarist and vocalist Emma Proulx, keyboardist/producer Dragos Chiriac, and bassist Jessy Caron. They captured quite a few hearts in the indie/dreampop scene over the last 5 years and have steadily built a strong fanbase: most of their gigs are sold out these days. Their last album “Headroom” was released in 2015 and they basically spent the last 3/4 years releasing a succession of singles. In the meantime they were joined by Emma Proulx as a permanent band-member (who instantly became the band’s “figurehead“) which provided a sense of proper band-ness. The long awaited, 24 (!) track, follow-up album Oncle Jazz was released last Friday, the 13th, and has 8 reworked versions of previously released singles. The question is of course: was it worth the wait, and is there anything to it apart from the singles?

Frankly, I get a lot of submissions by bands saying they sound similar to Men I Trust, but, trust me, only Men I Trust sound like Men I Trust. Why? Well, of course, there’s a lot of hybrid stuff going on in dreampop these days. The shimmery guitar/drowned vocals are blended with all sorts of influences: you name it, 80’s pop, disco, prog, hell …why not some latin rock? Men I Trust have made a signature sound of such a hybrid: they fused dreampop with jazzfunk. But at least, they do this consistently, and they do it really well. Imagine vaporous tunes that make you drift off on cloud 9, but at the same time you’re tapping your foot to an unwavering pulse? That’s Men I Trust for ya.

Oncle Jazz is packed with treasure abound! It’s an eclectic trip: from the warm distinct retro sounds of “All Night” and “Found Me” (hello Yamaha DX7) along the 70’s folky, acoustic-based “Pierre“and “Pines“, to the instrumental interludes of slapbassy “Slap Pie“, the heavy-metal-ish “Fiero GT” and the jazzfunky Alright“. It’s also coming home to the well-known sounds of singles “Tailwhip”; “Numb; Show Me How“; “Seven“; “Hope to be Around“; “Norton Commander“; You Deserve This” and the enigmatic “Say Can You Hear“. However, strangely enough, I think the highlights seem to be embedded in the unheard, newer songs like the delightful, breezy “Dorian“, the smooth euphoric “Air” (which would not look bad on a Jamiroquai album), and the quaint, dusky but oh-so gossamer and breathtaking track that is “Porcelain“. The epic Oncle Jazz is closed with the transient “Poplar Tree” tiptoeing out of sight like a playful wood-sprite, leaving me with a smile on my face…

Oncle Jazz is available on Bandcamp for a “name your price” rate, which is ridiculous considering what it delivers. You have no excuse not to purchase it. Period.

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