LONDON outfit Tree Trunks have been around for a little while now, nibbling at pristine pop, picking up airplay, seducing the ears.
There’s been four singles in the past couple of years proffering a line in intelligent, pristine synthpop, taking on influences such as the Yellow Magic Orchestra, Talking Heads and Frank Ocean to bring graceful, shimmery, summery melodies.
Production duo Robert Hunter and Sam Lewis met while playing for Rozi Plain and Francois and the Atlas Mountains out on the road; the trio was completed by vocalist Akiine.
And below you can listen to their first slice of cool, elegant pop for 2020, “Reaction”, which leads for their debut album Spirit, which will be released on September 25th.
“Reaction” builds on a big synth shimmer and a little figure that seems very YMO/Forbidden Colours-era Sakamoto; tapping into that aquifer of cool, clear pop melodies that made British pop a joy in 1982 and 1983. Akiine’s vocal is dreamy and spoken, maybe confused, bruised: “I don’t know if I want you to stick around”, she whispers, before lofting sweetly into the melody. It’s a reminder of how much grace and intelligence there can be in synthpop.
The album was put together at home across South London, Rob and Sam taking on the learning and the practice of production and recording themselves.
Sam says: “Rob and I were tired of paying for practice spaces and expensive studios and wanted to try to do everything ourselves.
“We’re proud of our DIY spirit: we recorded, mixed, and released the album ourselves, also designing the artwork.
“We wanted the album to feel both in tune with the history of the music we love and totally contemporary – exploring what it feels like to be a person in London right now.
“I’m half-Chilean, so some lyrics are in Spanish, and we were really pleased Akiine could be involved as a singer and songwriter too. Me and Rob are disciples of pop, so we also wanted it to be an upbeat record you can bump in the car or on the way to work.”
It’s clever and seductive like the best pop should be. And no, pop isn’t a dirty word, done this well.
Tree Trunks’ Spirit will be released by Slop Records on digital format on September 25th: it’s now available for pre-order at the Slop Records Bandcamp page.