Trade Wind - Certain Freedoms | Album Review

When hardcore giants Jesse Barnett (Stick To Your Guns) and Tom Williams (Stray From The Path) were on tour together back in 2013 a creative seed was planted. Over the course of the following years, an EP, and a full-length album later, that seed flourished into the project we know as Trade Wind. If you've never heard the band's work and you're expecting something akin to the members' other projects, you'd be way off the mark. Trade Wind make beautifully crafted atmospheric soundscapes with a tinge of subdued introspection, resulting in an airy dream-like signature sound somewhat comparable to the likes of bands such as Cigarettes After Sex. On this their second full-length release, the band use their full arsenal of skills to really focus and hone in on their sound and the result is nothing short of breathtaking.

Certain Freedoms opens with the track 'Surrender', where delicately picked guitars and hushed double-tracked vocals reminiscent of Bon Iver, quickly set the tone for the rest of the album. The track has an unmistakeable low-fi feel, which further lends itself to the intimate themes woven throughout the album by portraying a feel of friends sharing stories in their bedroom rather than an untouchable band in their multi-million-pound studio. After the airy introduction, the band jump right into the more driven, drum-heavy second track 'No King But Me', and the momentum keeps building from there.

A particular highlight from the album comes early on with the stunning track 'I Can't Believe You're Gone'. Beginning with a filtered, restrained drum beat, the melodic elements are introduced piece by piece starting with a beautiful, quixotic piano melody preceding the vocals. This track serves as an opportunity for vocalist Jesse Barnett to showcase his excellent range with shimmering highs underpinned by the moody, slightly muddy pads. There's an excellent sense of progression within the track, slowly building all the musical elements before the floodgates open in the last portion of the track and everything comes together. Compositionally, musically, and texturally, this track truly shines.

Towards the album's conclusion comes the emotionally charged 'Beige', preceded by the haunting 'Untitled II'. 'Untitled II' proves a sort of “calm before the storm” moment before the raw emotional intensity of 'Beige'. Beginning with a folky, fingerpicked guitar, 'Untitled II' is easily one of the most gentle, yet powerful moments on the album. Taking place in just a fleeting moment, the track has one of the most delicate vocal melodies from the album and the performance brings to mind elements of some of Rei Brown's work. Following on perfectly from the aura created by this track is 'Beige'. Over the course of the 'Beige', it evolves from a slowly progressing soundscape into a raw outpouring of emotion. Backed by distorted guitars, impassioned shouted vocals lament; “Don't be ashamed, it could happen to anyone”. This slightly heavier departure from the content on the rest of the album is particularly striking because of the stark contrast with the subdued nature of the other tracks, and because of this adds a greater layer of poignancy and weight to the lines Jesse Barnett is singing.

While the members in Trade Wind are a part of some very prominent hardcore bands, it's important to distance this project from those bands and distinguish this project as something totally different. Trade Wind create stunning aesthetic pieces, with high artistic merit and this is no more apparent than on Certain Freedoms. Trade Wind exist as an outlet for the members to explore different facets of their musicality and it pays off in a magnificent way. This album is the culmination of their experimentation and evolution, and forms the quintessential snapshot of the band at their very best.

Score: 8/10

Certain Freedoms is released April 25th via End Hits Records