With a re-recorded version of 2016’s ‘My Baby’s Gone Away’, Trudy and the Romance’s debut album springs into cacophonous retro life. Sandman is a carousel of fifties jukebox sounds, viewed through the shimmering haze of nostalgia. It’s more of the same doo-wop pop from the Yankee-philes, this time in the form of a cinematic concept album about first love that’s short on hits but full of character.
Sandman is hyperbolic at every turn, vintage sounds exploding like fireworks. It is not subtle, nor does it try to be: the swooning aesthetic is so strong that it calls to mind the hyper-fifties-soundtrack employed in Back To The Future to hammer home the idea that time travel has been achieved. There’s crooning, there’s a choir, there’s swelling strings, there’s even a harp. The result is that this trio seem more like actors than musicians, this record more soundtrack than pop album.
Produced by David Pye, Sandman takes what Trudy have already achieved with their sound and makes it fantastical with up-close and far-away vocal performances that are all-encompassing and technicolour, like a Disney film. This is undoubtedly the intention, and if it all starts blending into one, then that’s because the album has been written more like a film score than a pop record.
There is some nuance: ‘Doghouse’ is a bouncy post-coital jaunt delivered with scampish cheek, while ‘Candy Coloured’ smacks more of a dejected walk home in the moonlight, stones kicked along the way. The overall result is a dreamy melted sundae that delivers on the concept (the surge and then sting of a first love) remarkably well, but not on the hits. There’s no new ‘Is There a Place I Can Go’, though the newly-envisioned ‘My Baby’s Gone Away’ is an excellent re-imagination.
A strong live act on the scene for the past few years, Trudy always bring the hedonism at their shows, employing “a prom-night aesthetic so potent it beguiles people into lighting up inside.” In the world of Sandman, these aesthetics are imitated and exploded into a soundtracked world that sounds like one long, immersive daydream of first love.
Sandman is released on 24 May 2019 via B3SCI Records