A sub-genre super-group, formed from members of hardcore bands; Structures, Stray from the Path and Stick to Your Guns, it would be easy to assume that Trade Wind would be a solid, if not entirely different project from those which it spawned from. However, Trade Wind specializes in atmospheric second-wave emo, which often borders on post-rock and even show gaze territory. Latest release-‘Certain Freedoms’-does not buck the trend.
‘Surrender’ gets things underway; the effects on the guitar and keyboards, combined with the muffled singing give the sensation of being underwater. It’s an atmospheric and poignant opening to the record, and sets the scene of the record perfectly.
Sticking with the theme of nostalgia and melancholy, ‘No King But Me’ keeps the atmospheric lead guitar and synths going, but is backed up with the fuzz of an alt-rock rhythm guitar. This track feels ‘beefed’ up, and harkens to Trade Wind’s parent projects.
‘Close Encounters (of the third floor)’ branches further into the realms of modern synth-indie, and wouldn’t feel out-of-place on a Bastille record. It’s a solid, if not entirely memorable attempt at a pop-track. It is commendable as it is inoffensive.
Piano driven track ‘I can’t Believe That Your Gone’. Is much more impressive. There’s a palpable sense of loss throughout this track; set against a syncopated drum beat. It’s much simpler than the previous tracks but, conversely, resonates so much more.
The album’s title track is a great slab of quiet/loud/quiet alternative rock. Betraying influences from the 90’s and early 00’s, this is something that is lacking in the modern rock scene, and Trade Wind do it very, very well.
Short tracks ‘Show me the Moon’ and ‘How’s your Head?’ Serve as a nice, if forgettable interlude to proceedings.
The frenetic ‘Cut’ gets back to the angsty introspection that was prevalent at the beginning of the album. The jittery guitars creating an atmosphere of anxiety and worry. It is among the most interesting and ambitious tracks on the album thus far.
‘Flower Machine’ and ‘Untitled II’ are excellent pieces of acoustic rock. The former as positive as the latter is slow and melancholic, this shows where Trade Wind’s strength truly lies. When the tracks are simpler, and more stripped back, the songs are given room to breathe, and resonate much more than the technical, if cluttered blasts of synth-pop.
‘Beige’ hits similar notes, with a few additional synth flourishes thrown in, which don’t detract from the quality of the song. You feel that if Trade Wind could perfect this formula, they’d be on to something special indeed. When the crunchy rhythm guitar makes a return, it only emphasizes the angst behind the yelped lyrics.
‘Nashinga’ is another good, but indistinctive slice of electronic noodling, which feels a bit of a missed chance, considering it’s the album’s closing track.
Overall, ‘Certain Freedoms’ is an ambitious, and at times impressive record, with tracks such as ‘I Can’t Believe that You’re Gone’ and ‘Untitled II’ showing a sonic subtlety that is totally absent from all the bands affiliated with Trade Wind. Three albums in, what started as a side project, is carving out a name in its own right.
While some of the tracks here get lost in a wash of synths and effects, there is songwriting of a very high standard here. Where the band goes next remains to be seen, but-as is to be expected from a group made of musicians from hardcore bands-Trade Winds excel when they keep things simple and meaningful. If their next record follows the more straightforward blueprint of some of the tracks here; Trade Wind won’t be too far a leap away from good releases, to great ones.