They sound like everything you’ve never heard of in such a way that they make you feel as if you haven’t consumed music before. They’re a pop group believing they’re in the wrong time zone and convinced that they’re on the cusp of Beatlemania – or, perhaps, a modern-day indie quartet plucked straight of the 1960s and into the 21st century. They’re a meeting of a cross-section of opposing eras, the lyrical candour of Twin Peaks set to the melodic hymns of girl groups such as Thee Headcoatees. Trying to fit the band into one genre is difficult, themselves describing their music as “mutant ’50s pop”, which is rather apt.
On Sandman, the Liverpool trio’s first debut release, such mysteries still aren’t unpacked, but you get a better glimpse of the world of Trudy & the Romance. Lead singer Olly Taylor’s vocals recall that of a jazz club crooner set atop the dreamy, melodic dreamy indie-pop-folk-rock-whatever you call it that seems to have come from a different time zone, a different era.
Sandman is very much a concept album, keeping tabs on the progress of Little Jonny, frontman of the fictitious band The Original Doo-Wop Spacemen, and his flame Sweet Emma. Their journey starts on opening track “My Baby’s Gone Away” as Jonny says goodbye to his lover and leaves town, with dreams of joining the Spacemen. Perhaps it is a story inspired from real-life events and personas, but on Sandman, you feel the plight of characters as if they are your own.
Having been inspiredby American jukebox tunes and music from the golden age of Disney, Sandman offers a uniquely cinematic listening experience that takes you in and out of moments you perhaps haven’t ever experienced before. Ideas, feelings from film soundtracks such as Pinocchio and Snow White, mixed with shining guitars and Taylor’s vocal delivery, make for retro indie pop in a very modern setting. With psychedelic, jazzy numbers that could appropriately soundtrack pretty much any film from timey-wimey Old Hollywood, tracks such as “Candy Coloured” make you recall a time when you were sat in a dingy dive bar in Los Angeles in the 1950s. Liverpool’s Sense of Sound Choir help bring the emotiveness of the lyrics, the cinematic sensation of the woozy soundscapes and dreamy guitars to life. With title track “Sandman”, you have to actively remember that your life isn’t actually being filmed in monochrome. On “The Crying Girl”, you have fleeting visions of yourself crying pathetically in the rain, perhaps from another life. Flashes of lives you’ve never experienced – or maybe will experience – come to life on Sandman, an ambitious auditory odyssey that takes the listener to places and times they’ve never quite dreamed of.