Out in October
Nothing hurts harder than a surprise ending, and the title track of this album has a real face-slap of one. One minute you’re in bliss, carried away in a crescendo of spine-tingling post-rock guitars and soft, wordless oohs, the next you’re through - the song’s out the door, down the street, pulling away from the kerb and into a new life.
That the overall tone of Jolly New Song is so anthemic and - for this band - uncharacteristically triumphant, only makes having the rug pulled out from under you like this seem so much more cruel, so much more funny. Perhaps the harder the fall is, the more you have to laugh.
Because the Gdansk-based post-punk-psych band Trupa Trupa are sodden in a particularly cryptic kind of gallows humour. This isn’t just down to some glitch in translation - it could be in part due to the band’s art-rock origins and because their singer and guitarist, Grzegorz Kwiatkowski is an award-winning poet in Poland (incidentally, Trupa Trupa themselves have been shortlisted for the Polish equivalent of the Mercury Music Prize).
And then there’s the fact that the band’s name in English roughly translates to Corpse Corpse, which sounds like the punchline to some inscrutable gothic joke.
But being literal is easy. This isn’t John Lennon’s tedious, platitude-toting Imagine. This is The Beatles in a universe where their most famous song was Tomorrow Never Knows; a Pink Floyd that split when Syd Barrett’s mind did.
There are no Wonderwalls here. Instead we have Coffin, a uniquely morbid love song that comes in the form of a seriously ear-wormy pop ditty. “Lying with you, without a move, the coffin so smooth…” Grzegorz cheerily croons, before the tune tumbles into a catchy major-chord chorus about burning trees, people and birds.
You can dance to this album - check out the to-die-for funk groove that propels the Can-like Falling. You can trip out to it - check out the psychedelic meltdown that mutates the Wurlitzer fairground music of Only Good Weather into something dark and psyche-scarring.
Sometimes it sounds like the end of the world (the bleak roar of Mist), but sometimes it sounds like the start of a new one (the unashamedly gorgeous To Me).
The Quietus declared Trupa Trupa’s critically-acclaimed 2015 album, Headache, to be “their first moment of true greatness. This is incredible work,” and suggested that these musicians were on the cusp of a Dog Man Star or Daydream Nation - something genuinely game-changing and era-defining. Jolly New Songs is that album and it does not disappoint.
Not part of the x-ray records series, this release is a collaboration with our friends at Ici d'ailleurs.
Praise for Jolly New Songs:
"Jolly New Songs blurs the lines between the wry and the genuinely unsettling so effectively that it’s rarely entirely clear when, or if, the band is joking. When Kwiatkowski’s voice takes on a bit of a punk sneer on “Never Forget,” a track with tantalizing shades of Unwound’s autumnal masterpiece Leaves Turn Inside You, he can sound a bit like Howard Devoto of Magazine, a flicked switchblade with an unclear target." - Pitchfork
"Rarely jolly and unfailingly morbid, vocalist Grzegorz Kwiatkowski gets spooked by visions of falling, coffins, death and the lingering sting of humiliation as his band charts the links between psych-rock and post-punk with unswerving intensity." - Newsweek, #9 most overlooked LP of 2017
"Trupa Trupa frontman Grzegorz Kwiatkowski is a published poet, but in 'To Me,' he limits his lyrical output to precisely three words: 'Away / To me.' That leaves Trupa Trupa to pound out a hefty blast of warped and churning psych-rock thunder that culminates in a full-band freakout of hair-raising proportions." - NPR
"Jolly’s finest moment is album closer “To Me”, which sounds like The Beach Boys’ Surfs Up crashing into My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless. There’s nowhere to go but up for this most unique rock band." - jambands.com
"Trupa Trupa, a rock band from Gdansk, are a strange bunch. And they’ve made a strange, brilliant record. Jolly New Songs is a record packed with phrases and licks that become earworms, passages that create vivid and empathetic dream scenarios, and spruce blasts of noise that give a real sense of energy." - The Quietus
"Back in 2015, parts of the indie rock landscape were looking in dire need of some attention. With Headache, and now Jolly New Songs, Trupa Trupa have brought a much-needed freshness to the territory, their nimble poeticism backed up by a wintry toughness. They, as well as other string manglers like Hey Colossus, Part-Chimp, Cayetana and Beaches – there are more if you know where to look – are carving out unique, individual spaces in a zone where mould-breaking innovation has all too often ossified into idea-free conformity. Essential listening." - Louder Than War
"I’m suspecting Trupa Trupa’s second full length, the impishly titled ‘jolly new songs’, might if we bother to do one, find itself in the end of year best of listings. I may have said this on previous occasion, but no band does grandeur and majesty on such a divine slow burn as these folk." - The Sunday Experience
"Jolly New Songs is no disappointment. Trupa Trupa conjure some truly remarkable soundscapes from a standard palette of instrumentation: from the kind of vast glacial vistas that are Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s stock in trade to funky, clockwork miniatures reminiscent of Can and even, at times, Jeff Buckley-esque moments of gossamer intimacy." - Freq
"These 11 songs are precise, intoxicating and addictive. With raw production they are also unpredictable, oscillating between psychodelia, classic post-rock and… groovy melodies. At the same time the album is consistent, creating a dark and energetic landscape." - Tidal
"Jolly New Songs is full of surreal constructions that worm their way inside your head with catchy melodies and then refuse to leave when their strangeness becomes all too apparent." - The Ransom Note
"Jolly New Songs is a meditation on identity and the compromises we make in order to secure it. The title, of course, is ironic. There is little joy here. Instead, the band presents a pervasive, creeping atmosphere that sometimes teases the listener towards earthly delights, but never delivers on its promises. It is a blizzard that threatens to extinguish all light from your paraffin lamp, after beguiling you into undertaking a solitary tour of Gdansk’s most sinister cemetery. It is a cold, dark record and certainly worthy of your attention." - Backseat Mafia
"To ingest Trupa Trupa’s Jolly New Songs is to wonder what kind of mushrooms are growing outside behind the band’s practice space in Gdansk. The drugs are working, just not quite how you would expected them to." - The Line of Best Fit
"They’ve proven that their unusual, somewhat difficult sound could attract and be appreciated by a broad audience. The quartet, formed in Gdansk, has also received many awards, reinforcing the belief that even in the 21st century, we still need ragged guitar riffs, accompanied by melodic vocals, the main hallmarks of Trupa Trupa." - Europavox, best bands of 2017