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Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Trews - Hope & Ruin

The Trews - Hope & Ruin
2011, The Trews Records

Toronto rock quartet The Trews have ten Top-10 singles and 2 gold records to show for their first three albums, yet the band chooses to break new ground on their fourth album, Hope & Ruin.  Colin MacDonald (vocals); John Angus (guitar); Sean Dalton (drums) and Jack Syperek (bass) have been one of Canada's top live acts for a few years now, becoming known for a heavy, guitar-driven sound.  This time around the Trews created music live in the studio.  Hope & Ruin consequently features flashes of the sound that have made The Trews crowd favorites, but also displays the band in greater depth than their prior works.

The Trews begin in familiar territory, with the guitar-driven pop/rock of "Misery Loves Company".  The song is built on a wonderfully catchy hook, with vocal harmonies wound around MacDonald's lead like aural gift wrapping.  Muscle aside, "Misery Love Company" could vie for recognition as the mythical perfect three-minute pop song.  "One By One" is catchy Americana/rock with rapid-fire lyrics and a memorable chorus.  The song is built on a pervasive riff that takes on a life of its own.  "People Of The Deer" is high energy, melodic hard-rock with seething pop sensibilities.  MacDonald's voice drives this one, but ambitious guitar work and a killer chorus complete the effect nicely. 

"Stay With Me" is a bit maudlin for a love ballad, falling into a sound that's part Counting Crows and part Gin Blossoms.  Similarly, "Hope & Ruin" is catchy at first listen but gets a bit bland beyond the pacing of the song.  The Trews fall into a bit of a rut with "The World I Know" and "Dreaming Man", but turn it over with "I'll Find Someone Who Will".  In spite being a bit heavy on repetition, the song is a solid pop-oriented rocker about the need for dysfunction in a relationship.  It's a solid arrangement; MacDonald and The Trews may make you think of Bob Seger singing with the Gin Blossoms here.  "Love Is The Real Thing" is a solid and catchy acoustic rocker, and sets up the closer, "Burned" quite nicely.  "Burned" stays with the Seger/Gin Blossoms sound, with MacDonald adding a soulful blues feel to the vocal line that is appealing.

The Trews stepped outside of their usual template to create the surprisingly effective Hope & Ruin.  Like any band that evolves over time, The Trews may find some of their fan base who have a hard time with the adjustment, but there's enough appealing change here to bring in a host of new fans as well.  Hope & Ruin is an evocative change of pace for The Trews without abandoning their heritage as a band.  Perhaps the biggest surprise here is that The Trews haven't been heavily courted south of the proverbial 54-40 before now.

Rating: 3.5 Stars (Out of 5)

Learn more about The Trews at or & Ruin is available from as a CD or Download.  The album is also available via iTunes.

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