Album Review // TRAMPOLENE ‘Swansea To Hornsey’
Swansea To Hornsey is the first full album from Welsh trio Trampolene. After six well-received EPs, a ton of tours across the UK and Europe and numerous festival appearances, the band is now giving their fans exactly what they’d want – an album of dirty, gritty rock.
Listening to Trampolene’s latest release is like listening to your favourite 90s grunge bands all wrapped into one. It’s retro, it’s rough, and it clearly doesn’t care what you think about it. You can see how a band like this has done so well through live shows – it’s music that was made to be played live, in the sense that you can imagine the recordings sounding exactly like one of Trampolene’s gigs, and visa versa. Each song is loud, in-your-face and unashamedly stripped back to the very basics.
What really makes Swansea To Hornsey so special is the occasional interruptions of lead singer Jack Jones’ spoken word, which breaks up the heavy guitar-led rock tracks.
Artworks Of Youth is the first song on the album, and it immediately showcases Jones’ talent for spoken word poetry (alongside Trampolene, he performs his poetry as a solo artist). It runs as a series of names and memories from his youth, with each person being highlighted as a ‘first’ for Jones – be it the first girl he fancied, or the first boy to ‘smoke a spliff’ before class. The track ends with Jones saying “But I was the first to get out. Thank fuck for that”, which cements Swansea To Hornsey as an album for those who need to escape the tedium of everyday life.
Ketamine appears midway through the record, and it’s a more rhythmic poem than the opening track. It plays on the classic childhood idiom “You scream, I scream, we all scream for…” yeah, you can probably guess what Jones is screaming for. While this poem doesn’t expressly say ‘Don’t do drugs kids!’, it can’t easily be accused of glorifying them either. Lines like “When you’re trying to cheer yourself up, you could knock yourself out” and “The best of a session may lift your depression, or leave you mentally unstable on a mortuary table” give a clear indication of Jones’ complex relationship with the drug in question.
The stand out tracks, in my opinion, are Imagine Something Yesterday, Beautiful Pain and Storm Heaven. First is laden with indie rock nostalgia, and has definite influences from the classic British acts like The Libertines. As with the spoken word tracks, it shows off Jones’ knack for lyrics – it’s sentimental and heartfelt, while still maintaining a guitar-heavy, 90s garage sound.
Beautiful Pain is for anyone who’s ever known any kind of addiction, even if that addiction involves a person. It details the feeling of constantly needing something/someone even though it’s almost certainly sure to hurt. This song is a little different to the other rocky, indie tracks on the album – it starts fairly acoustic and toned down, and escalates into something a whole lot more anthemic.
Finally, Storm Heaven is just straight up rock. It’s what Trampolene do best; a little bluesy, very gritty, and will draw in anyone who claims to be a fan of rock from the 70s/80s/90s… basically it’s pretty timeless. There are plenty of tempo changes and massive guitar solos – perhaps lyrically it’s not as effective as other tracks on the Swansea To Hornsey, but, quite frankly, it’s not trying to be. Storm Heaven serves a very definite purpose of being a classic, epic, rock song and nothing else.
As a debut album, Swansea To Hornsey manages to be incredibly varied, whilst still showcasing the band’s alt-rock roots. It’s easy to see why they’ve had so much success as a live band; here’s hoping that success translates into album sales as well – they deserve it.