With a name like Com Truise you sort of expect the band to not quite take themselves seriously and yet the latest release Persuasion System is surprisingly beautiful in tone. It’s retrowave 80’s synth wonderfulness. You may say it oh it just sounds like the Stranger Things TV show and that’s as may be but this reviewer will take that over the combined works of Drake and Beyonce. And sure, retro synth is probably old hat and overdone but so is like all guitar music ever and people still make it and love it.
Following the palate cleansing opening of Worldline the album kicks into ear with title track Persuasion System; a matrix of bleeps, clicky beats and that perfect 80s bass synth sound. Next is Gaussain, which, for a moment, harkens Vangelis’ Blade Runner soundtrack, or maybe even the spacious sounds of Burial with a huge synth pad filling the sonic spectrum while a separate melody plinks away over the top. Repetition is key and you wonder where it’s going. Then just before the second minute we’re interrupted by a rasping electronic squelsh and the song ends. It’s a great moment and cuts through any pretension while also reminding you that they are called Com Truise.
A minor criticism is that most of the songs never quite break free of their initial set up. There is maybe a frustration that they never go four to the floor electro. Ultrafiche of You is a prime example, the second half features a filthy lead synth that fails to deliver the freak-out melody you’d been clamouring for. I feel like this is a deliberate choice – why go to toe-to-toe with retrowave kings Carpenter Brut when you can go another direction? While clearly a stylistic decision I found myself sometimes wishing a song to be something it was not.
However, where Com Truise excel is in their repetition. Existence is Schematic reminds me of Brainfreeze by F**k Buttons, the way the drum beat drives the whole song, becoming the refrain you adore that accents the main melody. It’s my favourite track on the album.
Overall, the tracklisting slides together well and while there are no weak songs there are certainly some big standouts. Songs that perhaps don’t quite hit the mark are those that flip between stopping and starting (Laconism) that just push you away a little too much. Even then, each track works as a luscious 80s-inspired soundscape and is never a chore to listen to.
Persuasion System is out now, via Ghostly International