Dreampop is leading us into the next century. It is one of the more progressive and ever-evolving sub-genres of the past decade. A relatively new genre that combines the ethereal and harmonic vocals from Shoegaze as well as the catchy and jangly melodies from pop. While the genre isn’t exactly narrowly defined this is one of more the common definitions I see across the music community. It is one of my favorite genres at the moment and the one I look out for the most when I’m exploring new music. The genre is ever-expanding and is one of the main sub-genre that is leading us into the new decade. I wanted to take this opportunity to talk about one of my favorite bands of this decade and their evolution to where they are now.
The story of Men I Trust’s rise to indie fame is a bit more abnormal than most. The group initially started without their lead singer. In 2014 producer Dragos Chiriac and bassist Jessy Caron, both Quebec music graduates and high school friends reunited after college and came together to form a duo named Men I Trust. Their music was heavily inspired by the electronic movement of the 2000s. If you take for example a song from their self titled 2014 debut like Endless Strive and compare it to their most recent output you immediately hear the difference in their approach to production. The programmed robotic electronic drums alongside these boisterous synthesizers give you a closer look into how the duo looked at song creation. The basics where all there, the dance-inducing, funkiness and soothe demeanor coupled with great vocal performances by frequent guest collaborators offered a range of different song types. At that was really missing would soon be discovered.
In 2015 as they were working on their next project they came across a video on Facebook of their future lead singer Emmanuelle Proulx. They were so impressed by her voice they invited her on to their 2015 album Headroom. On the track Out In Myself, we get a very subdued and reverb packed poetic performance from Emma with some lyrics I still can’t even understand myself. What the hell is a “dread cabalist night”? I’m not too sure but it slaps regardless. The other track she lends her voice to Curious Fish is a little dancier and energetic with these stabbing and interjecting strings that pop in from time to time. And the tale of a lone fish being attracted to love and pulled it by its shiny exterior. The album itself is fantastic, with the first half being very feature heavy with every singer lending the best version of themselves and the bottom half taking bits and pieces from house music and 80’s style synthesizers reminiscent of the fairly new at the time Random Access Memories by French house duo Daft Punk. While I am a big fan of this record the band would later go on to say in many interviews that the sound of the album was almost too clear and pristine that it essentially dehumanized many of the aspects of the project and that they were naturally moving towards a more organic sound. Which would ring especially true as the marathon of singles began.
So what happened next? They haven’t been very clear in their interviews but one can only assume that sometime in between June of that year and March of the next Emma was asked to join the band as their official and full-time singer. In early March of 2016, they released their first single as a full 3-piece band Humming Man. The song is magical, beginning with a very simple loop and drum kick while Emma speaks in the perspective of an anxious and paranoid old man who has disconnected himself from the outside world. “Amid the gate, he stares at my door. How long did I see him stay?” is one of the many lines that puts you in that old man’s shoes all while you bob your head alongside that groovy bass line. The vocals are brimming with reverb and tons of effects that give this song an out of body experience.