And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of The Dead: “Lost Songs”

The band’s name, And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of The Dead, may very well have the most obnoxious name in indie rock. It is shortened as Trail Of The Dead, or the fan favorite AYWKUBTTOTD. But Trail Of The Dead has managed to prove they’re more than just another indie band with a quirky reference for a name.

Formed in 1994 in Austin, Texas, the indie-rock outfit has been going strong with an ever-evolving sound of post-hardcore, noise, and art rock influences. However, with their latest offering, Trail Of The Dead decided to scale down their excess to create a much more raw sounding album. But in an odd way, this may actually be a step forward for the band.

Dedicated to imprisoned Russian band Pussy Riot, “Lost Songs” is a stark contrast to any of the experimentation on previous Trial Of The Dead albums and finds the group doing what they did best in the ninties: loud, boisterous, in-your-face rocking.

The frantic energy of “Open Doors” sets the stage right out of the gate with a wall of noisy guitar sound, heavy bass lines, and unrelenting drumming. For all intents and purposes, this album sounds like the band is harkening back to their earlier days as a garage band and is tapping into that same passion. Tracks like “Up To Infinity” (one of the best songs here) keeps the chaotic energy of the album while showcasing beneath a guitar-driven pop melody. While surprise standout “Awestruck,” experiments with a power pop beach melody before washing the vocals with a shriek of noise. Trail Of The Dead builds the raw garage energy around catchy melodic lines and it’s a contrast that manages to work.

Where the album falters is the same place Trail Of The Dead has always had problems- front man Conrad Keely’s poetic license when it comes to lyrics. For all his desire to make a statement with the album about war and apathy, the message is muddled thanks to clumsy lyrics that reek of trying too hard. Like this little gem from “Catatonic”: We are absolute dreams/ We the absolute ways/ No more reason to stay/ We’re going to the sea/ We’re going, need to go. Or from “Bright Young Things”: Good fine, I still pull things/ Walk on acid, feet I break/ Stand at the basic lines/ I wonder why did I fall back.

“Lost Songs” is a strong album from Trail Of The Dead. While the overall message of the album may not be strong, the heart that went into it is front and center. What it lacks in substantial lyrics, it makes up for in delivery and style.