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Review: Men I Trust @ SWX

Men I Trusts' Untourable Album lands at SWX. Josh was there to see it.

By Josh Templeman, MA Politics and International Relations

The luscious sounds of Montréal-based outfit Men I Trust caress you like the gentle breeze of a summer’s evening, carrying you away to a realm where reality and reverie intertwine.

The journey of Men I Trust in recent years has been one of disproval. Contradicting its title, the luscious melodies and expansive soundscapes of their latest project, Untourable Album, have lulled crowds into a state of blissful tranquillity all around the world since its 2021 release. Written and released in an era of self-isolation, facemasks and ‘New Normals’, this was the album the band never envisioned they would perform.

The Canadians kicked off the UK stint of their European tour in show-stopping fashion, bringing fellow Montreal natives and childhood friends Ghostly Kisses in support along the way. Combining delicate yet impassioned vocals with sophisticated production, Ghostly Kisses’ opening set crafted a sonic journey that was almost transcendental and will have certainly left an impressive lasting opinion on the SWX crowd.

Ghostly Kisses @ SWX / Josh Templeman

Men I Trust are a group that has become addictively easy to love from pockets of fans all across the musical spectrum. Whether it’s the endearing Québécois accents, mysterious yet bubbly personas, or their glowing catalogue, it’s easy to see how they’ve garnered such a wide-spanning fanbase. Perhaps unexpectedly, the group has even gathered much acclaim from hip-hop circles following Joey Bada$$’s sampling of the band on his standout 2022 track ‘Show Me’.

In high spirits and casual attire, the band would emerge a surprising five minutes earlier than predicted, surrounded by a minimalistic stage set-up and drowned in soft blue lighting. Opening with the track ‘Organon’, it quickly became apparent that lead vocalist Emma Proulx’s voice was just as enchanting as is heard on their studio recordings.

With precise guitarwork and pulsating bass, skilled instrumentation complemented Emma’s vocals deftly throughout the set. Though she is undoubtedly the face of the band and perhaps one of the chief factors behind their widespread acclaim, the dreamlike riffs and tight melodies of lead guitarist Jessy Caron fiercely demonstrated that Men I Trust are far from a one-man show.

Tracks like ‘Seven’ and ‘Hard to Let Go’ saw Caron take centre stage, beamed in white by the light technician, to flex his musical muscles and lay down impressive guitar solos to rousing applause.

Though Men I Trust’s set was inch-perfect, with a performance that perfectly struck the balance between intimate and energetic, it’s evident that Bristol crowds still need a few lessons on gig etiquette.

Stood nearby was a crowd of clearly intoxicated men talking non-stop over the top of every track they didn’t previously know (which appeared to be every song other than ‘Oncle Jazz’, ‘Show Me How’ and ‘Billie Toppy’). Now, nobody is saying you need to know every lyric to every song, in fact, going and seeing bands you aren’t that familiar with is one of my favourite methods of musical discovery, but discussions of your favourite vape flavours or rent prices in Quedgeley are surely more appropriate following the end of the show to not annoy those surrounding you. I personally cannot understand the thought process behind paying to go to a gig just to talk over its entirety, especially when the band’s vocalist is as ethereal as Emma Proulx.

Men I Trust @ SWX / Josh Templeman

Most would agree that the concept of an encore is incredibly played out at this point, but this didn’t stop it from receiving the most vigorous reaction of the evening, as is often the case. Emerging triumphantly once more, this time to ‘Fiero GT’, Caron once again drove the crowd into a sense of funk-based euphoria before the band would play their most popular track ‘Show Me How’. Though she must have experienced this a hundred times over by this point, charmingly, Proulx would giggle and grin as the crowd rallies each and every lyric back to her in an exchange that wouldn’t have been out of place and last weekend’s Wimbledon final.

To close, the band played ‘Say, Can You Hear’. The lights shifted from a magenta hue to blue flashes and barely a soul could be spotted not swaying side to side.

The crowd dispersed onto Nelson Street with a sense of jubilance, with one member of the audience screaming ‘People who like Men I Trust are hot’ to those exiting the venue. Though I sense that sentiment was certainly not aimed at me, I’ll definitely take it.

Featured image: 'Tailwhip' Single Cover

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