The best thing about the rise of lo-fi in recent years has been the voice it has given to a section of the music scene that was otherwise mute. So what is a band to do when, noticed for their ramshackle recordings online and supremely energetic live performances, they’re given the money to record an album?
After having various recordings put out, a few CD-Rs and having played an uncountable amount of gigs, the hype has slowly been growing around Trash Kit for the past couple of years. Made up of two Rachels and a Ros, the trio have won over hearts with their charming compositions, culminating in uber-hip label Upset the Rhythm giving them free reign to craft their debut for the imprint. And that, in itself, is the dilemma. Whilst it would be churlish to suggest that they’d gained fans due to the vast amounts of fuzz on earlier efforts, once you put a band based so heavily on the urgency of delivery in the prosaic surrounds of a studio, there’s a definite chance they’ll lose the very vigour that made them so relevant. Similarly, if they stick to their roots, would the low-quality recordings justify anyone spending money on the CD?
Trash Kit’s sound has never been one that has debated such conjecture too much, and the suitably side steps all conjecture with ease. Whilst their noise has undoubtedly been cleaned up by their time in the surrounds of a studio, it retains the allure that made them so instantly likeable in the first place. The riffs all still sound rickety, whilst the vocals are far from polished, but there’s not a hint of fuzz throughout. The decisive factor is the same as it always has been – whether you’re taken in by the pure punk ethics of three women giving it their absolute best and coming out with 27 and a half minutes of frenetic pop, or you’re turned off by the sentiment that almost anybody with a limited amount of skill could’ve knocked this out in under an hour.
The doubters are unlikely to ever be won over, but for fans of the band, and the DIY genre on the whole, this is an amazing artefact, documenting 17 tracks that have been played countless times in venues around London for the past 24 months. Whilst it might not be No New York, there’s a definite air that this is something pivotal, and for long time Trash Kit fans, that’s certainly the case. Thankfully, the recording process could never take the edge off the panicked rhythms and harmonies of ’50ft Woman’, nor could it detract from the playground simplicity of ‘New Face’ with its childishly anthemic chorus of “New Face/Bad Taste/What a/What a/Disgrace”.
Whilst the chances of ever turning the hobby of making music into a fully fledged career are forever getting slimmer, much of the beauty of these tracks comes in the passion of their futility. These songs are made to be played in dingy basements and awkward upstairs rooms, specifically designed to be played to around 30 people who are absolutely desperate to be there rather than hundreds or thousands that are mildly interested. Whilst there has always been space for bands that make such gloriously off-kilter and out of tune pop music, there has scarcely been a time other than the modern day in which Trash Kit could exist. It’d be easy to argue that their older tracks are much more relevant and pleasant, with the poor recording hiding some of the moments that are harsher to the ear, but to do that would be to miss the point. For bedroom artists around the country, this is a watershed moment, a benchmark to be celebrated, whilst for lo-fi music on the whole, it offers more clues to where its boom could lead to. There are definitely better albums out this year already, but few have the potential to be quite as seminal as this.