UK based Trash Boat are here with their second full length album, Crown Shyness, which after a few listens appears to be about the never-ending struggle of life. Whether that be your own mental troubles, dealing with the toxicity of others, or struggling to connect with anyone, Crown Shyness tells those stories. Trash Boat are Tobi Duncan (vocals), Oakley Moffatt (drums), Dann Bostock (guitar), Ryan Hyslop (guitar), and James Grayson (bass).
Building up to the release of the album Trash Boat have been a bit busy. They completed a headline tour through Europe and the UK in May this year, and also featured on the lineup for the big Slam Dunk Festival in England. After enjoying some well needed time off they have upcoming dates on the final Vans Warped Tour in the US, and have also been put on the massive UK festival Reading/Leeds. Fingers crossed they make their way back to Australia soon enough (such as maybe Unify?).
Getting into it, the first track off Crown Shyness is “Inside Out”. We’re greeted with what sounds like an old television recording. Surrounded by static, the people speaking set the tone for the song, as well as the entire album: “Do you find for instance that some of the hardship that you went through as a child strikes chords, brings memories to you when you’re actually formulating a characterization, a part? What makes you think there aren’t hardships when you’re grown up?” The punk heavy instrumentals kick in with the vocals, and your ears are treated to some gorgeous music that makes you want to groove. The guitars throw you back and forth as the rhythms change and adjust, working off the pace set by the drums and the emotion shown by the vocals.
This track demonstrates Trash Boat’s change in sound, heading for a more alternative tone than the previous pop punk based music (as in Nothing I Write You Can Change What You’ve Been Through), and also seems to touch on what a large portion of the album is going to be about subject-wise. “Inside Out” appears to be about hiding how you are feeling inside, and how this can make you feel even worse. Self harm, denial, ignorance; none of it helps, and yet somehow they are the only remedies you can think of. As the blood leaks out, the disease that you refuse to put a name to takes over. The emotion, the pain, and the constant hurting, this all comes through in the vocals in what is a special display from Tobi.
“Shade” follows on with some huge heavy riffs, launching into the very fast verses that quickly become a staple of this record. The song is packed with complex drum fills and harsh vocals, and features a gorgeous catchy chorus that absolutely slugs you in the face with the perfect clean vocals that star in it. You can head bang as well as dance, and the belting instrumentals are fantastic.
This song appears to be the story of dealing with someone who treats you horribly. They try and drag you down because you are the only one that gives them the time of day, and they try their absolute best to make you feel horrible about yourself so that you don’t leave them behind. As the lyrics hint at the story, they discuss the need to focus on yourself and leave that person behind. It seems harsh, and it feels horrible, but it needs to be done so that you can keep yourself healthy. The remorse behind this is shown in the vocals, that almost sound like they are yelps at times, as though Tobi is wounded and is wailing in pain. It adds to the intensity tenfold, and makes clear why this was the debut single off the record.
“I’m sick of thinking about this, it’s no longer constructive, I’m sick of thinking about you.”
Track three is “Nothing New”, which takes us through the mind process of repeated self destruction. You struggle to focus on what’s real and what isn’t, as you drive yourself over the edge, constantly overthinking and panicking over nothing. Impassioned vocals overwhelm the chorus and verses, as they roll off the catchy instrumentals, as smooth as butter. The riffs zig and zag, as the drums almost set their own pace at times, repeating fills and crazy patterns, becoming a highlight of the song even though they somewhat run under the radar.
“Why do I do this to myself in the first place?
Chasing smoke with something sweet to hide the taste.”
The lyrics continue to speak on irrational fears, and disappointment, as it all weighs down on you. You feel like you are sinking further and further, and sleep is a privilege that you can’t afford. You attempt to trick yourself into happiness, and as time rolls on the struggle continues. This is lyrically and instrumentally a beautiful song. It’s hard hitting with the story it tells, and will hit close to home for many listeners going through similar things themselves.
Up next is one of my early favourites, “Old Soul”. Melodic and soft vocals feature heavily, in what is a tear jerking story about trying to carry on, when deep down you are suffering. You lay at the mercy of your own demons, begging them to set you free. Touchingly soothing, the smooth vocals in the chorus feel desperate, as you plead and plead to get out of this endless hell.
Vowing to carry on, the final chorus takes off, closing on what is a huge and moving song. The melodies are massive, and the simple yet fitting instrumentals just make perfect sense. Toned perfectly, the sweet spot between soft and heavy, they ease you into the sadness of the whole song. You want to dance as well as cry. What an effective song this is.
“Controlled Burn” turns the heat back up, introducing us to some very heavy riffs, as well as some harsh and angry vocals. The entire lyrical and instrumental structure points towards this being a song about frustration, as you constantly find yourself making awful decisions. Slowly your life is falling apart, and you refuse to accept any of the blame for it. The lyrics discuss hiding behind your excuses and lies, and the infuriating self awareness that comes as you observe yourself doing it, while making no effort to better yourself.
One of the heaviest songs off the album, “Controlled Burn” shows the extra ability that Trash Boat have, to take their punk sound and make it brutal. Hard and fast verses make up a large portion, as the guitars make you want to mosh as well as dance. The drums are continuing to impress me, and the bass is the glue holding this whole thing together. Each song so far has been structured in a unique and enjoyable way, and I’m loving it.
“Don’t Open Your Eyes” is no exception to this. No instrument overwhelms the music, each one seeming to fit perfectly, every note played exactly where it needs to be. Behind the vocals you can hear the heart, and behind the lyrics you can hear the story behind it. You can feel yourself hitting a low point as you’re haunted by your own mind. People attempt to help, offer solutions, but they don’t understand. Fake remedies and meaningless company doesn’t numb the pain.
The bridge brings this all together in a way, as the repeated anthemic statement of “Sing so we don’t forget”, feels like a mantra: Say it again and again to feel alright, words to live by, don’t forget who you are and why you matter. The uplifting of spirits towards the end comes through in the huge emotional vocals, and the huge instrumental breakdown along with it.
“Talk with me, cut right through the lethargy and sing. Sing so we don’t forget.”
Now lets soften it up a bit. The acoustic and heartfelt melody “Crown Shyness” is a highlight of the album, as the painstaking story hits it’s peak. The slow song is full of emotion, and is one that will make you cry as it gets deep into the process of being stuck in a cycle of darkness. It is almost as if you aren’t able to feel anything at all, and it feels like no one knows you exist. You put up a facade and struggle to focus on the light, as the darkness is overpowering. Beautiful things are right in front of you, but you can’t see them.
The voices in your head torture you, picking apart every insecurity, and trying to solidify every dark thought with evidence that is meaningless. No one knows how it feels, and no one knows that every smile, every laugh, every conversation, it’s all a lie. A complete cover up for the ongoing war inside your head. This is all fit into the lyrics of this effective and overpowering song, creating one of the most heartbreaking songs on the record.
“Talk like you always know what’s best for me, the voices they are deafening, staring past my eyes, telling me how I die: Alone.”
“Silence” is a song to release energy. Quick verses, ripping guitars, skillful drumming, shifting vocals. All ingredients in the recipe of this headbang inducing and singalong producing track. Lyrically it discusses the inner war of your mind, as you constantly fight off the demons, whose attack seems to be unrelenting. You suffer all alone, and feel like it would be easier if it could all end now. Asking for help is scarier than anything, and you continue to suffer in silence.
The “shh” after the bridge gives me goosebumps every time, and opens the tunnel that allows you to see the light. A huge feelsy chorus finishes off the track with an extra bit of added oomph, as things are looking up.
The penultimate song, “Undermine” is a perfect example of building suspense in a song. Starting slow, demonstrating Tobi’s gorgeous melodies, and ripping into life like a lawnmower engine. The riffs are massive, and you could genuinely get a sore neck from listening to this. To be honest this feels like a closing track, as it feels like it really links up everything discussed in the lyrics of the other songs, and leaves things on a good note. The lyrics say that nothing is set in stone, and the world is inconsistent, so it can be changed. You can make that change, especially if it involves your own life. Bad times aren’t forever, and you can find the light.
“I still obsess over bridges burned, but if I can keep my head on straight, the fire will light the way.”
The closing track off the album, “Love, Hate, React, Relate”, shows that things are getting better. Maybe you are still struggling, but you are learning to live with it. It focuses more on the loss of a loved one, whether that be through the ending of a relationship or an accident of some kind that is unclear. The lyrics are very touching and sad, and make you feel something different to the other songs.
“I go through the motions, rehearse my emotions, call them by name.
Joy. Peace. Guilt. Release. Love. Hate. React. Relate.”
Learning to coexist with the demons, you set yourself in a routine. Constantly wearing a facade, it starts to help you cope with it all. The vocals with all this are rather aggressive, and demonstrate the pain that this causes to write about and perform these stories. The instrumentals are loud and heavy, and close out the album in a big way. It finishes on a huge high, and really sums up the level’s of passion shown throughout the whole album.
Crown Shyness is heavily filled with themes of depression, anxiety, and just mental struggles as a whole. It’s a fairly dark album, showing the inner workings behind the troubled mind of the songwriter. The lyrics are beautifully written, telling stories and making you feel things as they do so. The instrumentals are congruent with the lyrics, consistently matching whatever mood is expressed, whether high or low. The highs and lows of illness are portrayed, and this is a treat to listen to. I feel Crown Shyness is one of the better albums of the year so far, and I thoroughy enjoyed it.
Beautiful story telling through the lyrics. Touching writing and vocals. Killer heavy and soft instrumentals. Songs are structured magnificently.