Review: Men I Trust – ‘Untourable Album’

Men I Trust released a thirteen downtempo track album, called 'Untourable Album'. Puddlegum breaks down each song track by track.
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Men I Trust released their fifth album earlier this week. This band from Quebec likely needs no introduction, but we shouldn’t make such assumptions. Jessy Caron and Drago Chiriac started the project in 2014, releasing synth heavy electronic songs as a self-titled album, bringing in various vocals on some of them. Emmanuelle Proulx (Emma) appeared on two of their songs on their second album, Headroom, released a year later. You can hear the Jessy’s funk bass and jazz influences on this album as well.

By 2016, Emma had joined Men I Trust and they began releasing three singles each year. Their single You Deserve This showed Men I Trust firmly establishing the sound they would carry forward. Show Me How became a defining song, with its mix of aggressive bass, smooth pads, and dreamy vocals. In 2019, they released Oncle Jazz, having developed quite a following by this point. Oncle Jazz was an ambitious album of twenty four tracks (and a hidden track, This Deserves You, on CD and cassette releases), blending singles they had released with new material. The album delivered in its ambition, acting in sorts as a reset for the band.

They released two singles that later appeared on their Forever Live album, thirteen live takes and garage sessions. This album sat well especially considering that they released it in the tumultuous 2020 when they weren’t able to tour. Fans were hungry for live material.

On Tuesday night at 10pm, August 24, 20201, Men I Trust released Untourable Album on YouTube as a live interactive stream. Thousands of fans listened to the album together for the first time, sharing their reactions, as the band watched on. (If you haven’t engaged in one of their live listening sessions, it’s a treat. This is a band that has firmly grasped connecting with fans on YouTube.)

So much work has been put into this album and we’re thrilled to be able to share it with you today. Thank you one million times for your ongoing support, we’re truly lucky to have you! It’s been fun watching your live reactions yesterday at the album premiere. Couldn’t wipe the smiles off our faces.

Men I Trust (Instagram)

The album is comprised of thirteen tracks, all previously unreleased. This is the first time they released an album (since Emma joined the band in 2016) without releasing a single or music video in advance. But because they have hundreds of thousands of worldwide fans, they can do this without risking the album being overlooked. Men I Trust will be supporting Untourable Album on tour across North America and Europe this fall.

Untourable Album continues the consistently amazing sounds we’ve heard over the past three years, in Numb, Show Me How, Norton Commander (All We Need), Tides, and many others. There’s a fluidity in these songs, elements of jazz and funk, and dream pop that make Men I Trust so easy to listen to.

Track by track review of Untourable Album

Organon opens the album with reversed guitars and their signature warping and ambient synth tones. Emma’s vocals are as dreamy as ever. It’s clear that Men I Trust have firmly established a sound that is unique to them.

Oh Dove has a brilliant groove, with that aggressive bass tone, warm pads, up close drums, tying in vocoded vocals from Jessy or Drago. Emma’s vocals has a nice delay that shifts to the sides.

Sugar is a little more upfront mix. Laidback beat that is mixed toward the center and behind the music. A slight funk in the bass, and synths melody that is close to the listener.

Sorbitol is one that gives the listener exactly what we love about Men I Trust. Drums are mostly dry (the snare sounds so good), a droning synth pad in the background, beautiful synth tones that carry you into reflection.

I don’t know about your love
I don’t know about your past
Things I did have brought me shame, and pride
Alas, I don’t know about your past

Men I Trust – Sorbitol (Bandcamp)

Tree Among Shrubs takes these sounds and pushes them into a more pop blend, with a faster beat and all of their sounds in a digestible three minute song. Her vocals are doubled and hard panned, with harmonies slid toward the center.

Before Dawn opens with a drum loop, and three layers of synth tones. Electric guitar is picked, running through a tremolo, and mixed behind the synths. The vocals are shifted toward the right, with a dark pitch shifted reverb on the right placed somewhat underneath the mix. 

Serenade of Water is immediately lovable, releasing the tension created by the prior track. Everything about this song should be a hit with fans.

5am Waltz continues the dark experimentation brought in by Before Dawn. A drum loop and dark synth tones that sound like slowed vocoded vocals tones build a short foundation before the song gives way to a brighter segment.

Always Lone has the filtered funk bass that we love about this band. A brilliant beat with an unusual kick pattern, EQed where you only hear the 50Hz from the kick and not the attack. It’s a really intriguing sound that sits in the center of your head when listening on your headphones.

Ante Meridiem blends in an acoustic guitar, something you normally don’t hear in their songs.  They blend spoken word from a conversation in the middle of the song. The song feels more experimental than their melodically focused tunes. 

Lifelong Song has an interesting synth with a filtered edgy waveform. Emma’s vocals parallels the electric guitar melody that has a chorus effect.

Shoulders has a recording of soothing rain drops that you see in the album cover, a photo taken by Lynn Goldsmith. They explain why and how they selected this photo on an Instagram post. Her vocals are the most upfront in this song than others. Electric guitar arpeggio is picked to a 3/4 rhythm.

Beluga is a short one minute, eleven second track that closes the album, the only instrumental on the album. The synths and guitar have a slap delay effect and a distant room mic picking up a jazz drum pattern.

It’s difficult to review a Men I Trust album without diving in deep. There are so many things to love about their sound and mixes. This album will certainly be on repeat, and is a highlight of 2021 for me. Do see them perform this autumn, and you can buy the album digitally (name your price) on BandCamp.

Men I Trust – Untourable Album track-listing

Oh Dove 
Tree Among Shrubs
Before Dawn 
Serenade of water 
5AM Waltz 
Always Lone
Ante Meridiem
Lifelong Song

Men I Trust discography

Untourable Album LP (2021)
Tides single (2021)
Lucky Sue single (2020)
Forever Live Sessions LP (2020)
Norton Commander (All We Need) single (2019)
Oncle Jazz LP (2019)
Seven single (2018)
Tailwhip single (2017)
Plain View single (2016)
Lauren single (2016)
Humming Man single (2016)
Headroom LP (2015)
Men I Trust LP (2014)

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Kevin Flick
Kevin Flick

Kevin Flick founded Puddlegum in 1997 and has been engaging in music journalism off and on since. He's also a recording/mixing engineer and loves to help bands work through the creative process. He has coproduced and mixed for artists such as Saeyers, Midi Memory, and Cathedral Bells.

Rumors are that he's a Brighton Hove & Albion FC fan. He's also obsessed with coffee. Kevin resides in the college community of Bloomington, Indiana, where he studied at Indiana University.

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