After eight years, California punk icons T.S.O.L. have released their latest full-length album, The Trigger Complex, and though it bears little resemblance to anything the band has released before, it was well worth the wait.
T.S.O.L. has gone through many changes throughout their four and a half decades of playing. Starting as a lo-fi hardcore act with their early Dance with Me LP, the band gradually shifted to the goth leanings of Change Today?, before taking on a controversial glam persona similar to Guns and Roses in Hit and Run. It wasn’t until 2001, when original vocalist Jack Grisham reunited with the band, that fans saw the long-awaited return to their punk roots in Disappear and all subsequent releases.
Because of this, to say that the band’s discography has been eclectic would be a gross understatement. By now fans that have not relegated themselves strictly to specific eras have come to expect the unexpected from any new work T.S.O.L. produces. And this record is no exception, marking a new musical direction for the band almost ten years after reclaiming their original punk roots.
The first thing longtime fans may notice about the new album is just how lighthearted it is. Nothing in this album sounds anything like what T.S.O.L. has put out before. The songs are bouncier, giddier, more akin to power-pop than classic punk. Yet it shows each member of the band at the top of their game.
Instead of dark, spooky subject matter or angry political anthems which defined T.S.O.L. in both their early work and later reformation, listeners are instead treated to a balanced mix of upbeat sounds. We are first given the Ramones-esque opener “Give me More.” Midway through, the album shifts into the goofy teeny-bop jam “Going Steady,” only to end on the uncanny, unexpectedly moving instrumental “Bats.” In between these, the tracks feel like a merger of classic ‘70s punk and ‘80s pop-rock, yet never in a way which seems sold out or gives listeners a feeling of having been cheated.
The album instead is a natural artistic progression for a band which took decades to discover themselves again. Fans of any T.S.O.L. era will find something to love here, while newcomers will be introduced to an easy doorway into the band’s vast discography.
As of January 27th, 2017, The Trigger Complex is available both in music stores and digitally worldwide. It can also be purchased directly through Rise Records.
Check out their Facebook page for up-to-date info on tours and new releases.